Amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force are at locations across the continent.
01 March 2022
The Ministry of Defence has announced a host of new deployments in recent weeks in response to building tensions with Russia, culminating with the invasion of Ukraine last week.
British troops and tanks have been deployed to Estonia, near Russia’s border, while Royal Navy ships are at sea in the Mediterranean and Royal Air Force jets are conducting missions over Poland and Romania, intended to reassure allies.
Here, the PA news agency runs through where key British forces are currently located across Europe.
– Royal Navy
After a short delay due to a technical defect, the Royal Navy has deployed HMS Diamond, a Type 45 guided-missile destroyer, to the Mediterranean.
She is due to join up with HMS Trent, currently deployed alongside other Nato vessels in the eastern Mediterranean.
HMS Trent is an offshore patrol vessel and is lightly armed but does carry a detachment of Royal Marines.
Also in the region is HMS Echo, a multi-role survey vessel. While she specialises in survey work, she is armed with some light weapons.
The Royal Navy has vessels deployed in Norway too. HMS Albion for example, an amphibious assault ship, is currently in Tromso, ahead of a Nato exercise.
HMS Portland, Northumberland, and Defender are all also at sea, all in the vicinity of the UK.
The Royal Navy’s two aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales are alongside in Portsmouth. The latter is due to deploy later this month to join Nato exercises off the coast of Norway.
– Royal Air Force
The UK’s base in Cyprus, in the eastern Mediterranean, is home to a number of Typhoon fast jets. Four more jets have been deployed to the base in recent weeks.
Alongside Voyager air-to-air refuelling tankers, jets based both in Cyprus and the UK are conducting flights over Romania and Poland. This is known in Nato as air policing, and aims to “preserve the security of alliance airspace”, according to the organisation.
Also in the area is a Royal Air Force P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, designed for anti-submarine warfare.
Currently deployed in Sicily, it is taking part in Nato exercises.
Intelligence-gathering aircraft have been seen active near Ukraine. A Royal Air Force RC-135W Rivet Joint surveillance aircraft has flown several times since Russian forces invaded Ukraine.
On February 23, a day before Russia’s invasion began, the aircraft was seen on flight tracking website flightradar24.com flying a pattern over Ukraine. Since then, it has been conducting flights over Poland, near the country’s border with Ukraine.
According to the Royal Air Force, its “sensors ‘soak up’ electronic emissions from communications, radar and other systems”.
– British Army
The British Army has maintained a presence in Estonia since 2017, as part of Nato’s “enhanced Forward Presence (eFP)”. Nato says these deployments, which also include a Canadian-led force in Latvia, a German-led force in Lithuania, and an American-led force in Poland, “make clear that an attack on one ally would be considered an attack on the whole alliance”.
The UK has now deployed an additional 1,000 troops to Estonia, as well as further Challenger 2 tanks.
In early February, an extra 350 troops were also sent to Poland, adding to the 100 troops already in the country.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said last week that the UK’s deployments “constitute a credible deterrent to stop Russian aggression threatening the territorial sovereignty of member states”.