Boris Johnson prepares to double number of troops in Eastern Europe amid Ukraine crisis
The PM said the extra troops would send a "clear message" to Russia
The UK is considering offering an extra 1,000 troops in Eastern Europe to increase pressure on Russia amid heightened tensions over Ukraine.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering the biggest possible offer to members of the NATO defence pact in the Nordics and Baltics, which would double troop numbers with an extra 1,000 boots on the ground and send defensive weapons to Estonia, his office said.
The PM is due to phone Russian President Vladimir Putin in the coming days, and is set to visit Eastern Europe this week.
The Prime Minister said: "This package would send a clear message to the Kremlin we will not tolerate their destabilising activity, and we will always stand with our NATO allies in the face of Russian hostility.
He added: "If President Putin chooses a path of bloodshed and destruction, it will be a tragedy for Europe. Ukraine must be free to choose its own future.
"I have ordered our armed forces to prepare to deploy across Europe next week, ensuring we are able to support our Nato allies on land, at sea and in the air."
Earlier this week, I was briefed by our defence chiefs on the situation on Ukraine’s border.
The picture is increasingly concerning – I continue to urge Russia to engage in negotiations and avoid a reckless and catastrophic invasion. pic.twitter.com/ILaJzxCURI
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 30, 2022
Meanwhile, the defence and foreign secretaries are preparing to meet their counterparts in Moscow to try and de-escalate tensions.
Britain has already threatened Russia with tough economic sanctions.
In recent days, Russia has increased its military presence near Ukraine's border, raising concerns in the West of a planned invasion.
The Kremlin has denied it plans to invade the country.
Currently, there are roughly 100,000 Russian troops, tanks, artillery and missiles on the border.
The UK has more than 900 military personnel based in Estonia, more than 100 in Ukraine as part of a training mission, while a light cavalry squadron numbering about 150 is deployed to Poland, the BBC reports.