NATO members are putting forces on standby and sending additional ships, fighter jets and personnel to eastern Europe as Russia continues its military build-up in and around Ukraine.
According to a post from NATO on their official Facebook page:
“NATO Allies send more ships and jets to enhance deterrence and defence in eastern Europe In a strong sign of allied solidarity, NATO members are putting forces on standby and sending additional ships and fighter jets to NATO deployments in eastern Europe, as Russia continues its military build-up in and around Ukraine.
NATO is a defensive Alliance. In response to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, NATO increased its presence in the eastern part of the alliance, including with four multinational battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Their presence makes clear that an attack on one Ally will be considered an attack on the whole Alliance. There were no NATO forces in the eastern part of the Alliance before 2014.”
So who is doing what?
According to NATO:
- Denmark is sending a frigate to the Baltic Sea and is set to deploy four fighter jets to Lithuania in support of NATO’s long-standing air-policing mission in the region.
- Spain is sending ships to join NATO naval forces and is considering sending fighter jets to Bulgaria.
- France has expressed its readiness to send troops to Romania under NATO command.
- The Netherlands is sending two fighter aircraft to Bulgaria from April to support NATO’s air-policing activities in the region and is putting a ship and land-based units on standby for NATO’s Response Force.
- The United States has also made clear that it is considering increasing its military presence in the eastern part of the Alliance.
What about Britain?
The United Kingdom has sent thousands of anti-tank weapons to Ukraine and has been conducting surveillance flights near the Russian border with Ukraine.
This time-lapse shows British military aircraft going back and forward to Ukraine last week. Shown here are C-17s delivering thousands of anti-tank weapons and RC-135 aircraft gathering intelligence on Russian forces near Ukraine. | Animation covers 17th-23rd of January 2022. pic.twitter.com/3UJ4ScCMPE
— George Allison (@geoallison) January 25, 2022
Why? Well, quite simply most Western intelligence services appear to believe that an invasion of Ukraine by Russia is imminent after tens of thousands of Russian troops massed on the border with Ukraine.
Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace said, “the United Kingdom will stand up for the right of countries to choose their alliances. More important than the choice they make is the right to have that choice”. He later added:
“The UK’s position on Ukraine is also clear. We unequivocally support its sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, including Crimea. Ukraine is an independent, sovereign country of proud, independent Ukrainian people. The UK Ministry of Defence already has a long-standing relationship with our Ukrainian counterparts, and we continue to provide support in many areas, including security assistance and defence reform.
Since 2015, the UK has helped to build the resilience and capabilities of the Ukrainian armed forces through Operation Orbital, which has trained more than 22,000 Ukrainian troops. We maintain the right to deliver bilateral support to a sovereign nation when requested in areas that will better help them defend themselves. We have taken the decision to supply Ukraine with light, anti-armour defensive weapons systems. A small number of UK personnel will provide early-stage training for a short period of time within the framework of Operation Orbital before returning to the United Kingdom.”
Britain and Ukraine’s military cooperation – what’s involved?
British military assistance to Ukraine was increased significantly after 2014 and the Russian annexation of Crimea, a Parliamentary Research Briefing paper has taken a look at just what that involves.
In June 2021 the UK, Ukraine and industry signed a Memorandum of Implementation that will push the NCEP forward. Work will now commence on:
• Ukraine’s purchase of two refurbished Royal Navy Sandown-class minehunters in a government-to-government sale
• The sale and integration of missiles on new and in-service Ukrainian Navy patrol and airborne platforms, including a training and engineering support package
• Assistance in building new naval bases in the Black Sea and Azov Sea
• The development and joint production of eight fast missile warships
• Participation in the Ukrainian project to deliver a modern frigate capability.
In 2015 the UK launched Operation Orbital, a non-lethal training and capacity building operation that provides guidance and training to the Ukrainian armed forces.
“In August 2020 the MOD announced that the UK will lead a new multinational maritime training initiative that will boost the capacity of Ukraine’s Navy to act in the Black Sea. The UK and Ukraine have also launched the Naval Capabilities Enhancement Programme, which will develop Ukraine’s naval capabilities.”
To date, over 22,000 Ukrainian military personnel have been trained under these initiatives.