Ukraine: UK in 'advanced' talks over sending hundreds of troops as Russian invasion threat looms

27 January 2022, 10:33 | Updated: 27 January 2022, 13:40

The UK is mulling over sending more troops eastwards as the threat of a Russian invasion looms
The UK is mulling over sending more troops eastwards as the threat of a Russian invasion looms. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Hundreds of British troops could deploy to Eastern Europe as the threat of a bloody Russian invasion of Ukraine looms large.

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With Vladimir Putin massing some 100,000 troops at the border, Nato countries are looking to bolster defences.

Amid the high-stakes stand off, which has seen the US and Russia discuss the state of forces in the east of the continent, the British Government is considering beefing up its contingent of military personnel.

About 1,000 are already deployed in Estonia and Poland as part of existing commitments designed to deter Russian aggression and show support for Nato countries.

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The Telegraph reports that Government sources say there are "very advanced discussions" about deploying more units from the army, Royal Navy and the RAF to Nato's easternmost countries, many of which are ex-Soviet or Warsaw Pact members.

CNN said that battlegroups of about 1,000 soldiers could be offered by Britain, the US and other Nato members.

However, the Telegraph said some sources were "downbeat" about more troops being provided by London, while it was also suggested any increase in numbers would be in the low hundreds.

More equipment could be sent to allies instead.

Ukraine, which is not a Nato member - itself central to the stand-off because Russia is determined to ensure it will never join the alliance - has already received anti-tank weapons from the UK.

Read more: 'Severe' UK sanctions 'ready to go' as 100,000 Russian troops line Ukraine border

Kiev has been embroiled in conflict with rebels in its east, which are supported by Russia, and it lost the Crimean peninsula to Moscow in 2014.

There is no suggestion new Nato battlegroups would end up in Ukraine but they are instead designed to show support for the Nato's eastern states.

There have been no signs of breakthrough on talks between the West and Moscow. Besides guarantees over Ukraine and Nato, Russia has demanded no Nato troops or equipment in countries that joined after 1997, which the US has branded a non-starter.

This week, Boris Johnson warned President Putin off an invasion. He said: "If Russia pursues this path then many Russian mother's sons will not be coming home."

Meanwhile, Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, told LBC that severe sanctions on Russia would be ready to go if the Kremlin sent its forces to its neighbour.