UK commits to long-term troop deployment in Baltic states
Move 'likely to raise hackles' in Moscow, which has accused Nato of trying to militarise border territories
Defence secretary Michael Fallon has committed the UK to a long-term troop deployment in the Baltic states to deter Russian aggression.
The length of the deployment will be open-ended but it will work on a rotational basis with the US and Germany, in line with post-Cold-War agreements about permanent troop placements in former Eastern Bloc nations.
The UK deployment will form part of the "Transatlantic Capability Enhancement and Training" initiative, first agreed in June between Germany and the US, which is designed to increase training and exercises with less militarily-equipped European allies.
"The move is almost certain to raise hackles in Moscow," says the Financial Times. "Russia has long accused Nato of encroaching on its sphere of influence and attempting to militarise territories along its border."
While the UK contingent is only likely to comprise around 100 troops, the deployment is still a "marked change in Britain's posture", says the newspaper.
The UK is already deploying RAF jets to the Baltic states and around 75 military trainers are running programmes for Ukrainian troops. The defence secretary also revealed plans in August to double the resources in Ukraine, where President Petro Poroshenko has said he is trying to regain control of its eastern border with Russia.
"Now we will have a more regular drumbeat of troops deploying in the Baltics and Poland," said Fallon ahead of yesterday's Nato defence ministers meeting in Brussels.
Nato members also renewed its promise to defend allies in relation to Russia's "escalation" in Syria, with thousands of troops prepared to go to Turkey, which has condemned Moscow for violating its airspace.
Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said the organisation would send a "clear message" to its allies: "Nato will defend you, Nato is on the ground, Nato is ready."