The British Army has decided to send armoured vehicles to Germany a year after announcing its withdrawal from the country. Since the end of World War II there has been a constant British military presence in Germany, until February 2020, when 20,000 military personnel left the country and the last headquarters in the city of Bielefeld was closed.
Now, amid renewed tensions between Ukraine and Russia, London has decided to send troops back to Germany, as announced by Ben Wallace, the defence minister. This plan is part of "Future Soldiering", a project presented by Wallace to the House of Commons, which he described as "the most radical restructuring in over 20 years".
"Our military will operate around the world, equipped with the capabilities to deal with a host of threats from cyber warfare to battlefield conflict," the minister explained. London will spend £8 billion on military equipment over the next 10 years, although 73,000 military personnel will also be cut. This decision contradicts one of Boris Johnson's election promises, who assured that he would not reduce the armed forces.
According to Laura Hughes, a journalist for the Financial Times, this decision is aimed at strengthening NATO in the face of Moscow. On the other hand, Sky News, in addition to pointing the finger at Russia, also claims that this move is intended to deter threats from China.
Tanks, combat vehicles and other units will return to German territory so that British soldiers can be ready to deploy quickly "if necessary", according to Ralph Wooddisse, commander of the British Army. In particular, London will open the Sennelager base near the western city of Paderborn. This barracks will become the third regional land centre maintained by the UK internationally, along with those in Kenya and Oman.
According to Sky News, an army spokesman said that this barracks "has been deliberately designed with our NATO partners, it will enhance our ability to rapidly deliver on our commitment to NATO under the NATO Readiness Initiative by increasing our ability to store and stockpile materiel and equipment on the continent". Deborah Haynes, a journalist for the British media outlet, also notes that British troops could subsequently move to Estonia "where the UK has for the past five years led a 1,000-strong battle group of NATO troops as part of a mission to deter Russian aggression".
The British mission will join others that some Atlantic Alliance countries, such as the United States, maintain in the European country. There are approximately 35,000 US troops in Germany, a number that was increased in April after Joe Biden's administration decided to send more troops to the country. "This planned increase in US personnel underscores our commitment to Germany and the entire NATO alliance," Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said at the time.
Recently, US reports have warned of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, something Moscow has denied. "More than once we have said at various levels that Russia is not planning to attack anyone, that Russia is not maturing any aggressive plans, and it is totally incorrect to claim otherwise," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
"The United States, its allies, must stop creating a 'military fist' on our borders. And, of course, NATO countries must stop supplying Ukraine with modern weapons, thus inspiring Ukraine to insane actions," he added.
However, Ukraine continues to accuse its neighbour of planning such an invasion. Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine's military intelligence agency, told the Military Times that Russia maintains more than 92,000 troops on the border and is preparing an attack for "late January or early February". President Zelenski has also indicated that national intelligence services have information about a possible coup d'état around 1-2 December orchestrated by Russia and Rinat Akhmetov, a Ukrainian billionaire.
Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have risen dangerously since the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Moreover, since the beginning of the year, clashes between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces have increased in the Donbass, aggravating the conflict in the region that has already claimed the lives of 14,000 people, according to the United Nations.
In this dispute, Kiev, in addition to military support from the US and other European countries, has used Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones to bomb several pro-Russian targets in the Donbass. Ankara has sold several military drones to Ukraine in recent years, despite its rapprochement with Russia. Also, in October, Kiev announced the construction of a Turkish drone factory in the country.
Canada has also decided to send more soldiers to Ukraine. Defence Minister Anita Anand is considering sending some 200 more troops, a warship to the Black Sea and CF-18 fighter jets, according to the Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail.