• Reuters

UK Commits 20,000 Military Personnel for NATO Exercise in Europe

REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo
Banners displaying the NATO logo are placed at the entrance of new NATO headquarters during the move to the new building, in Brussels, Belgium April 19, 2018.

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will commit 20,000 military personnel to serve across Europe in a major NATO exercise in the first half of this year, as well as warships and fighter jets, the defense ministry said on Monday.

The deployment includes 16,000 British army troops who will be based in Eastern Europe from February to June, an aircraft carrier strike group and F35B Lightning attack jets and surveillance planes.

NATO’s Exercise Steadfast Defender 24 marks the Western alliance’s 75th year.

“I can announce today that UK will be sending some 20,000 personnel to take part in one of NATO’s largest deployments since the end of the Cold War,” Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said in excerpts of a speech due to be delivered later on Monday at Lancaster House, published by the defense ministry.

The NATO alliance has boosted the number of combat-ready troops after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine almost two years ago and has continued to support Kyiv with military, economic and humanitarian aid.

“It will see our military joining forces with counterparts from 30 NATO countries plus Sweden, providing vital reassurance against the Putin menace,” Shapps said about the exercise.

Last week, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that Britain will increase its support for Ukraine in the next financial year to 2.5 billion pounds ($3.19 billion), an increase of 200 million pounds on the previous two years.