The United Kingdom is deploying hundreds of troops as well as aircraft and armoured support to eastern Europe in what is being touted as the biggest military build-up of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation since the Cold War, The Guardian reported. The move is being seen in the context of growing tensions between the West and Russia following Moscow's annexation of Crimea in March 2014.
While 800 personnel with armoured support will be deployed in Estonia, Royal Air Force aircraft will be sent to Romania for up to four months. The UK's contribution will be part of Nato's overall deployment of at least 4,000 personnel, with the United States and Canada sending troops for the purpose, as well.
Following a meeting of Nato defence ministers in Brussels, UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the deployment "of air, land and sea forces shows that we will continue to play a leading role in Nato". Secretary General of Nato Jens Stoltenberg said the organisation did not "seek a confrontation with Russia". "We don't want a new Cold War, and we don't want a new arms race," he said. "What Nato does is defensive and proportionate."
The annexation of Crimea as well as Russia's support for the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria has led to diplomatic confrontations between the two sides, in addition to the imposition of sanctions on Russia. On October 3, the US had suspended talks with Russia on the Syrian conflict, while Russian President Vladimir Putin had cancelled his visit to France after his French counterpart Francois Hollande said he would only hold talks on the civil war in the West Asian nation.