Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday British troops would be deployed to Ukraine to train infantry there and deter Russia from testing the West’s resolve in other countries.
“Over the course of the next month we’re going to be deploying British service personnel to provide advice and a range of training, to tactical intelligence to logistics, to medical care,” Cameron told a committee of lawmakers in London.
Philip Hammond, the defense secretary, later said some 75 British troops would be involved. Cameron stressed that they would be a long way from the frontline in southeastern Ukraine.
The British leader’s announcement came after a second truce negotiated in the Belarusian capital Minsk collapsed last week.
Cameron said Britain was not going to provide weapons to Ukraine but did not rule this out for the future.
“If we don’t stand up to Russia in the long term, it will be deeply damaging to all of us because you’ll see further destabilization,” he warned. “Next it’ll be Moldova or one of the Baltic states.”
Earlier this month, former NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said there was a “high probability” Russia would intervene in the Baltics to test the Western military alliance’s commitment to collective security.
The three former Soviet republics joined NATO in 2004 together with most Eastern European countries that used to be in Russia’s orbit during the Cold War.
The Baltic states have been among Russia’s staunchest critics since it occupied and annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, another former Soviet republic, last year.
Cameron said there was no military solution to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine where Russia supports a separatist insurgency in the southeastern Donbas region.
“There needs to be a diplomatic solution which I think should be enabled by sanctions and pressure and the economic weight of Europe and America,” he said.
European Union countries and the United States embargoed Russian businesses with close ties to President Vladimir Putin’s regime after the Crimean annexation.
Britain has played a limited diplomatic role in the crisis, pushing for sanctions within the European Union but allowing French and German leaders to take the lead in negotiating a ceasefire with Putin.
Earlier this month, the United Kingdom did promise up to a thousand troops for NATO’s new rapid reaction force which would make it the single largest contributor to the unit.