Ukraine war: Thousands of UK troops to be sent to Europe in bid to combat Russian aggression

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Around 8,000 British soldiers are due to be sent to eastern Europe to take part in military exercises designed to combat Russian aggression.

The deployment - which is one of the largest to take place since the Cold War - will see troops placed in countries from Finland to North Macedonia.

Dozens of tanks and more than 100 armoured fighting vehicles will also be sent to the locations this summer under plans that have been bolstered since the war in Ukraine began.

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The armed forces will be joined by tens of thousands of troops from NATO and Joint Expeditionary Force allies, which include the likes of Denmark, Iceland and Norway.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the planned exercises will improve the ability of UK and Finnish troops to work alongside each other, "deterring Russian aggression in Scandinavia and the Baltic states".

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Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the move will show "solidarity and strength".

"The security of Europe has never been more important. These exercises will see our troops join forces with allies and partners across NATO and the Joint Expeditionary Force in a show of solidarity and strength in one of the largest shared deployments since the Cold War," he said.

"Operating across Europe, the British Army will stand alongside partners, combining our capabilities and shared values, promoting peace and security."

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The UK deployment is expected to build to a peak of around 8,000 personnel operating in mainland Europe between April and June.

Some of the exercises are set to involve parachute drops, helicopter-borne air assaults Challenger 2 tanks.

The drills aim to "showcase the scale and significance of the British Army's contribution to the defence of Europe", the MoD added.

Troops from B Squadron of the Queen's Royal Hussars have deployed to Finland this week to take part in an exercise, while in May the Royal Welsh Battlegroup and the Royal Tank Regiment will conduct an exercise on the Estonia-Latvia border.

Also in May, 1,000 soldiers from the King's Royal Hussars Battlegroup and C Squadron of the Light Dragoons will be deployed for exercises in Poland, supported by 104 Theatre Sustainment Brigade operating from the UK and bases in Europe.

Another exercise which began this week sees elements of 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team and 1 Aviation Brigade Combat Team deployed in North Macedonia.

Commander Field Army Lieutenant General Ralph Wooddisse explained: "The UK makes a significant contribution to the defence of Europe and the deterrence of Russian aggression. The British Army's series of exercises is fundamental to both.

"The scale of the deployment, coupled with the professionalism, training and agility of the British Army, will deter aggression at a scale not seen in Europe this century."

Exercises alongside American troops are also taking place in Poland.

Ukrainian capital comes under attack after meeting between Zelenskyy and UN secretary-general

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv has continued to come under fire, with at least one person killed and several others injured during a strike on Thursday night.

Rescue officials said some civilians were trapped beneath rubble after the Russian attack, which came shortly after a meeting between Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

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Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the Shevchenkivskyi district, in the northwestern part of the city, was hit twice, causing fires in at least two high-rise buildings.

Explosions have also been reported in Chernihiv, which is near the border with Belarus, and Fastiv, in the central part of the country.

Ukrainian authorities also reported intense Russian fire in the Donbas - the eastern industrial heartland that has become a key target for Russia.

Earlier on Thursday, a Ukrainian military official said Russian forces were "exerting intense fire" as they continued the second phase of their invasion.

Former British soldier killed in Ukraine as second Briton reported missing

It comes after a British military veteran was reported to have been killed in Ukraine while fighting Russian forces.

Tributes have been paid to 36-year-old Scott Sibley, who is the first British national confirmed to have died in the war.

A second British man, who Sky News has chosen not to name, has been reported as missing in Ukraine after travelling there to fight.

At the beginning of the war, Ukraine's government urged volunteers from across the world to come and help support its armed forces as they took on Russia's invasion.

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