HUNDREDS of sailors from Portsmouth are to be sent to the Baltic to counter the growing threat from Russia.
The Royal Navy is deploying five warships, made up of at least 400 personnel, to join Nato’s maritime arm, strengthening the alliance’s military presence in the region.
HMS Iron Duke, a Type 23 frigate, will go to the Baltic Sea until July, and one of the Type 45 destroyers will be in the area in October and November. The move comes after the Kremlin stepped up its aggression towards Ukraine, with its annexation of Crimea.
Portsmouth North MP and armed forces minister Penny Mordaunt said: ‘Bolstering our Nato deployments – the cornerstone of our defence – sends a strong message to those who would pose a threat to us and our allies.’
As part of the deployment to Nato, some 130 personnel serving aboard three minesweepers would join the alliance’s Standing Naval Mine Counter Measure Group.
Each ship will serve a tour of four months, covering areas from the Baltic to the Mediterranean, North Sea and North Atlantic.
Bolstering our Nato deployments – the cornerstone of our defence – sends a strong message to those who would pose a threat to us and our alliesPenny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP and armed forces minister
A Ministry of Defence spokesman stressed the doubling of the UK’s naval support to the Nato force was not directed at Moscow.
Fareham MP Suella Fernandes added she was immensely proud of the role played by navy personnel from across the area.
She added: ‘We face an increasingly complex range of threats and challenges around the world, which is why we need a well-resourced navy to defend our interests.’
The UK’s action comes little more than a month after Ms Mordaunt revealed Britain was to send out 3,500 first aid kits – worth £500,000 – to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Ms Mordaunt is due to visit Ukraine later this year to see British armed forces training the Ukrainian military.