UK announces biggest military deployment to NATO exercises in decades


Britain will send 20,000 armed forces personnel to one of NATO’s largest exercises since the Cold War, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps announced on Monday.

The deployment, which Shapps characterised as the U.K.’s biggest to NATO in four decades, is aimed at “providing vital reassurance” over the “menace” posed by Russian President Vladimir Putin following his invasion of Ukraine, Shapps said.

The British personnel — from the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and Army — will deploy across Europe and beyond for the military alliance’s latest “Exercise Steadfast Defender”, alongside personnel from 31 other member countries and Sweden, which is a candidate to join the transatlantic alliance.


The U.K. contingent will include fighter jets and surveillance aircraft, the navy’s most advanced warships and submarines, and a full range of army capabilities, including special operations forces.

London will send a so-called Carrier Strike Group — which features its flagship aircraft carrier and F-35B fighter jets and helicopters — to the exercises in the North Atlantic, Norwegian Sea and Baltic Sea.

Meanwhile some 16,000 soldiers will be deployed across eastern Europe from next month to June, taking with them tanks, artillery, helicopters and parachutes.

Shapps also addressed the joint UK-US strikes against Iran-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen last week. The Huthis have repeatedly attacked shipping in the Red Sea in recent months, in protest at the war in Gaza.

The UK minister said the strikes were intended “as a single action”.

But asked if further military action was planned, he replied: “I can’t predict the future for you.”


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