LONDON (WNI) — The U.K. announced today an additional deployment of troops to Lithuania as NATO continues to reposition its forces in Eastern Europe in response to a Russian military build-up around Ukraine.
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) confirmed that a “small number of military personnel” would be sent to Lithuania to assist the country in several areas including “intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.” The aim of the deployment is to help Lithuania deal with additional pressures “along its border with Belarus” according to the statement.
Britain recently announced it would be sending additional Royal Marines to Poland, with a first wave of troops arriving in the past few days to bolster its borders. It is anticipated that should there be any Russian military activity in Ukraine, it could lead to a sizeable refugee influx, affecting Poland among other European nations.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said today that “the UK and Lithuania have shared concerns about Russia's military build-up on Ukraine's border and the unfolding migrant crisis on Lithuania's border with Belarus.” The U.K. along with the U.S. believe that Russia has amassed sufficient numbers of troops to invade. A spokesman for the Pentagon also pointed out that Russia continues to increase its military force close to Ukraine’s borders without explanation.
Russia has signalled in recent days that there is still a diplomatic path out of the crisis and on several occasions has told European leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron that they don’t intend to escalate. However, Russia continues to maintain its military posture in the region. Planned exercises with Belarus are set to end, and analysts will be looking to see whether Russia follows through as diplomatic efforts continue to de-escalate regional tensions.