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Iran Press TV

UK, others in NATO considering US request to send more troops to Eastern Europe

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 27 January 2022 8:04 AM

The United Kingdom and other member states of NATO are considering a request from the United States to send hundreds of more troops to Eastern Europe before what they call a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russia and NATO have recently been at odds over Ukraine. Western countries accuse Russia of preparing for an invasion of Ukraine by amassing an estimated 100,000 troops and armaments near the border with that country. Rejecting the allegation, Moscow says the troop build-up is defensive as NATO has increased its activity near Russian territory.

Last month, the Russian government made demands on NATO and Ukraine about the future of their relationship, calling on the Western military alliance to deny Ukraine membership to NATO and to roll back its military deployments.

Moscow also proposed that the US not establish any military bases in the former Soviet states that are not part of NATO, and not develop a bilateral military alliance with them. Washington has rejected the proposals as "non-starters."

The US has recently shipped $200 million worth of anti-armor missiles, ammunition and other equipment to Ukraine. Furthermore, Washington has approved shipments of US-made missiles and other weapons from NATO allies Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to Ukraine.

Several NATO members such as Britain, Spain, Denmark, and the Netherlands have already sent consignments of weapons and warships to the region, and the US and the European Union (EU) have threatened tough economic sanctions against Russia in case of an attack on Ukraine.

On Wednesday, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said that London was considering how it could contribute to increased deterrence across land, sea, air, and cyberspace as he visited NATO's headquarters in Brussels.

"The US has asked us, and we are considering it," The Guardian quoted an unnamed defense source as saying.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday also told legislators that, "If Russia invades Ukraine, we would look to contribute to any new NATO deployments to protect our allies in Europe."

Earlier this week, the US placed 8,500 troops on heightened alert for deployment to Eastern Europe in case of an invasion on Ukraine by Russia.

France has already indicated that it is willing to move troops to Romania under NATO command, while the UK has supplied about 2,000 short-range NLAW anti-tank weapons to Ukraine.

However, Germany, another NATO ally, has rejected arms deliveries to Ukraine.

"We are standing on Kiev's side. We have to do everything to de-escalate. Currently, arms deliveries would not be helpful in this respect; there is agreement on this in the German government," Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said in an interview with the Welt am Sonntag newspaper published on Saturday.

Furthermore, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday said that in recent years "Germany has not supported the export of lethal weapons."

The British defense secretary, during a meeting with Lambrecht, said that Berlin should be strongly urged to support tougher sanctions on Russia in case of an attack.

"What we want from Germany, as the biggest economy in Europe, is a stronger signal on sanctions," Wallace said, reflecting London's concerns that Berlin is worried about the impact of Moscow halting the export of gas to Europe in retaliation.

Separately on Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington rejected Russia's demand to bar Ukraine from NATO, saying he had given Russia "a serious diplomatic path forward, should Russia choose it" to resolve the Ukraine crisis.

"There should be no doubt about our seriousness of purpose when it comes to diplomacy, and we're acting with equal focus and force to bolster Ukraine's defenses and prepare a swift united response to further Russian aggression," he added.

Earlier on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that Moscow would take unspecified "appropriate measures" if Washington and its NATO allies refused to provide Russia with the security guarantees it is demanding.

He also said that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had "lost touch with reality," when asked about NATO boosting its presence near Russia's borders.

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