Almost two thousand British Armed Forces personnel will be deployed to the Baltic Sea for a series of multinational exercises to bolster European security, the Ministry of Defence has announced.
The MOD said UK sailors and marines would be joined by 1,000 others from UK-led high-readiness Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) nations for the ‘Baltic Protector‘ deployment from May to July.
They are expected to test themselves with maritime tactical exercises, amphibious drills, shore landings and naval manoeuvres near .
Around 20 naval vessels – including Royal Navy ships – will be involved in the deployment.
The huge-scale exercise is designed to demonstrate the UK‘s ability to provide reassurance in the region at speed.
Personnel from the British Army and Royal Air Force will also take part, the MOD added.
Defence ministers and representatives from the JEF countries will meet at the MOD this week to discuss the deployment and test the mechanisms for mobilising the force.
Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary, said: ‘As Britain prepares to leave the EU, our unwavering commitment to European security and stability is more important than ever.
‘Deploying our world class sailors and marines to the Baltic Sea, alongside our international allies, firmly underlines Britain‘s leading role in Europe.‘
The joint force, now fully operational, is spearheaded by the UK and includes eight other likeminded nations – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
In February last year, more than 800 British personnel were sent to Estonia in a bid to deter Russian aggression and showcase Nato as a ‘very capable force‘.
The deployment was part of Nato‘s enhanced forward presence (eFP) which was set up at the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw to increase Euro-Atlantic security.
Commodore James Parkin, Commander of the Task Group, added: ‘Together, this UK-led Maritime Task Group will conduct a series of demanding amphibious exercises and maritime security patrols across the Baltic Sea that will serve to improve the way we operate together and our readiness to respond to crisis.‘