UK considering sending 900 more soldiers to Estonia — media
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering sending 900 more troops to Estonia, which would double the size of the current contingent, the Financial Times newspaper reported on Saturday.
The UK government said Johnson was considering the "biggest possible offer" in order to protect NATO allies in eastern Europe as tensions rise with Russia on Ukraine's eastern border.
Britain could send jets, warships and military specialists to NATO allies in the region in the coming days, the Financial Times said.
British officials will discuss the potential offer with NATO next week in Brussels. Johnson is planning a visit to the region in February, sources said.
One European official told the paper increasing NATO forces on the eastern flank is a "purely defensive" mechanism to reassure Nato allies, rather than a direct threat to Putin's Russia. They said they "don't compare with the current build up by Russia".
Writing in The Telegraph newspaper on Sunday, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss confirmed more British troops would be offered to Estonia. The UK will also provide more air support across the Black Sea and supply defensive weapons to Ukraine.
We're increasing our offer to NATO with extra troops, air support and defensive weapons to stand up against Russian aggression.— Liz Truss (@trussliz) January 30, 2022
Any Russian incursion into Ukraine would be met with severe costs and coordinated sanctions. pic.twitter.com/8uJtAK7t74
Kallas confirms discussions are ongoing
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) confirmed Estonia is in discussions to host more UK soldiers on Sunday.
Speaking to Times Radio she said the two countries' foreign ministers are in "constant communication" but stopped short of putting an exact number on how many additional soldiers may be sent to Estonia.
"If the UK decides to do something, we are very very happy to accept more troops here," she said.
Kallas also denied European countries are split on the issues of how to respond to Russia. The interview can be watched below.
Discussed current security situation in Europe w/ @TimesRadio. I emphasised that #NATO has kept a unified line against #Russia. We'll stick to our firm stance as only understands strength. Thanked the #UK for troops in #Estonia as part of NATO #eFP https://t.co/E1zBGdpVwH— Kaja Kallas (@kajakallas) January 30, 2022
Kallas and President Alar Karis have called for NATO to increase its presence in Estonia and the Baltic states in recent weeks.
The UK already has 830 soldiers stationed at Tapa military base as part of NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence and the country leads Estonia's battlegroup. Additionally, 150 soldiers are part of Poland's battlegroup.
NATO members Denmark and the Netherlands have already increased their presence on the eastern flank and France and Spain are preparing to do so.
Editor's note: This article was updated to add comments from Liz Truss and Kaja Kallas.
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Editor: Helen Wright