BRITISH ARMED Forces will travel to Eastern Europe for a major Nato exercise designed to be a show of strength by the Western alliance in the face of Russia’s continuing “destabilisation” of Ukraine.
More than 1,300 troops will make up the “full battle group” taking part in Exercise Black Eagle in Poland this autumn, the largest British commitment to the region since 2008, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has confirmed.
Speaking on a joint visit to Warsaw with Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Mr Fallon said: “It is right that Nato members and partners demonstrate our commitment to the collective security of our allies in Eastern Europe.
“The commitment of a battle group shows our sustained and substantial support to Nato’s eastern border.”
The announcement came as David Cameron and other key EU leaders agreed to press for a final deal on far reaching economic sanctions against Moscow targeting Russia’s defence, energy and financial sectors.
In a conference call with US president Barack Obama, Mr Cameron, Germany’s chancellor Angel Merkel, French president Francois Hollande and Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi all accepted measures should be in place as “soon as possible”, Downing St said.
A No 10 source said that they now hoped to see them push forward on the so-called “Tier 3” measures at a meeting tomorrow of EU ambassadors, although the source acknowledged that it would require agreement of all 28 nations.
“There was a clear sense that the European members states on the call would like to see agreement tomorrow, but until it is done it is not done. But we think it is important to make progress,” the source said.
If agreed, the measures are expected to go beyond the existing travel bans and asset freezes against individuals and hit Russia’s access to European capital markets and trade in the defence sector and sensitive technologies in the energy sector. In all, Britain is to deploy 1,350 personnel and more than 350 armoured and other vehicles to take part in Exercise Black Eagle.
Summit on war zone threat to aircraft: Page 14.