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Eastern Europe: Support for NATO Allies

Volume 709: debated on Monday 21 February 2022

As I confirmed at the NATO Defence Ministers meeting last week, we will double the number of UK troops stationed in Estonia and deploy two Royal Navy ships to the eastern Mediterranean, and our RAF fast jet deployment in southern Europe will be increased to squadron strength. That comes on top of the deployment of 350 Royal Marines to Poland to support the Polish armed forces.

The current forward-deployed forces of the UK and NATO were put in place in 2017, at a time when Russia was acting belligerently. Circumstances have since moved on significantly, and Russia is not just belligerent but openly hostile. It is supporting Belarus with the weaponisation of migrants, as well as building up the most significant military force since the second world war. Will the Secretary of State therefore give more detail on the planning in the Ministry of Defence and NATO should further reinforcements be needed, and for any refugee crisis that might follow?

A few weeks ago, at a donor conference, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe requested that members of the NATO alliance put forward a range of forces—I listed some of them—and we are guided by where he wishes to deploy them to provide either resilience, reassurance or containment. NATO has a range of options that it can deploy at times of crisis, such as graduated response plans, and they will no doubt play in should Russia make the foolish mistake of invading Ukraine.