U.K. mulling NATO troop deployment

U.K. mulling NATO troop deployment

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday that he is considering a “major” deployment of British troops, weapons and equipment in support of NATO amid Russia’s troop buildup along its border with Ukraine.

Mr. Johnson said he ordered British 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.”

Mr. Johnson asked U.K. defense and security officials to consider measures to bolster defensive efforts in Europe during an intelligence briefing earlier this week.

As part of the offer proposed Saturday, the U.K. would bolster its support for its Nordic and Baltic partners, and “strengthen Europe’s borders in the face of rising Russian aggression.”

“This package would send a clear message to the Kremlin – we will not tolerate their destabilizing activity, and we will always stand with our NATO allies in the face of Russian hostility,” Mr. Johnson said in a statement. 

The deployment would double the number of British troops in Estonia, where more than 900 are currently stationed. 

The U.K. also has more than 100 troops in Ukraine, and has a squadron of about 150 deployed to Poland. 

Britain has trained 22,000 Ukrainian troops since 2015.

Officials are set to finalize details during a planned meeting in Brussels to discuss military options Monday.

Mr. Johnson is scheduled to travel to the region next week with plans to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone to discuss the developing crisis.

President Biden said on Friday that he will deploy U.S. troops to Eastern Europe and NATO “in the near term,” but said “not too many” would be deployed.

The Defense Department has put nearly 8,500 troops on standby for a possible deployment to Europe.