UK & World News

  • 5 September 2014, 20:03

Ukraine: UK Troops To Join Rapid Response Force

Britain will send 1,000 troops to join a Nato rapid response force to counter Russian aggression in Ukraine and eastern Europe.

Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen revealed the plan for a Spearhead force on the second and final day of the Nato summit in Newport, Wales.

"This decision sends a clear message: Nato protects all allies at all times," he said.

"And it sends a clear message to any potential aggressor: should you even think of attacking one ally, you will be facing the whole alliance."

David Cameron said the UK would provide a "battle group and brigade headquarters" for Spearhead as well as 1,000 troops between now and 2015.

The announcement came as Ukraine agreed a ceasefire with pro-Russian rebels in the east of the country, which was due to begin at 4pm UK time.

Western leaders accuse Russia of sending thousands of troops into the east of Ukraine - prompting fears of future incursions into other eastern European countries.

Mr Rasmussen said the Spearhead force would establish a "command-and-control" presence in the east of allied territories ready to deploy air, sea and special forces in the event of aggression.

He told Sky News Tonight: "We have decided to improve our ability to act swiftly. The force could be deployed within very few days if needed.

"The intention is to strengthen the defence of our allies."

Mr Rasmussen said alliance countries would contribute troops on a rotational basis to the high-readiness force.

There were no final decisions on where the forces would be based, but he said Poland, Romania and the Baltics have all indicated a willingness to host the facilities.

Nato members also agreed to "reverse the decline in defence budget" and aim to increase it to 2% of GDP over the next decade in response to threats from Russia and the Islamic State.

As part of an increased focus on defence, Mr Cameron said Britain's second biggest aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, would be brought into service.

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama and Mr Cameron have continued to press their Nato counterparts to join a coalition of nations to combat militants from the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

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