The United Kingdom is considering making a major NATO deployment in response to Russia massing troops on the border with Ukraine, the government said on Saturday.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson cited rising "Russian hostility" towards Ukraine as the reason for the deployment.
What do we know about deployment?
The UK is considering an offer that doubles troop numbers in NATO's Nordic and Baltic member countries and sending defensive weapons to Estonia, the prime minister's office said.
"This package would send a clear message to the Kremlin — we will not tolerate their destabilizing activity, and we will always stand with our NATO allies in the face of Russian hostility," Johnson said in a statement.
"I have ordered our Armed Forces to prepare to deploy across Europe next week, ensuring we are able to support our NATO allies," he added.
Johnson said if Russian President Vladimir Putin chose "bloodshed and destruction" in Ukraine, it would be a "tragedy for Europe."
Details to be finalized next week
Officials will finalize the details of the offer in Brussels next week after ministers discuss various options on Monday.
Johnson will make a second trip to meet NATO member counterparts early next month, his office said.
Johnson is due to visit the region next week and will speak to Putin over the phone.
Britain's foreign and defense ministers will also go to Moscow for talks with their Russian counterparts in the coming days.
"They will be asked to improve relationships with President Putin's government and encourage de-escalation," Johnson's office said.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace is also set to travel to meet with allies in Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia next week.
sdi/sms (AFP, Reuters)