January 20, 2016 / 12:10 AM / in 2 years

Britain to send thousand troops to Poland for exercises

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Britain will send 1,000 military personnel to take part in NATO defense exercises in Poland, part of an agreement with Warsaw to strengthen security ties, the Ministry of Defence said on Wednesday.

Units from NATO allied countries take part in the NATO Noble Jump 2015 exercises, part of testing and refinement of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) in Swietoszow, Poland June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Anna Krasko/Agencja Gazeta

Warsaw, worried about increased Russian military activity, will host a NATO summit in July when it is expected to press for more North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces on its soil and in former communist-ruled Europe. Concerns have grown since a pro-Russian rebellion broke out in eastern Ukraine.

British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon will make a formal announcement of the dispatch of the troops after meeting Polish Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh.

The meeting comes against a backdrop of negotiations aimed at keeping Britain in the European Union ahead of a referendum expected in June.

Poland was open to compromise over British demands to limit the rights of EU migrants if London helped build up NATO’s presence in central Europe, Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski told Reuters earlier this month.

Poland has criticized Britain’s proposal to limit benefits for migrants as part of a projected overhaul of Britain’s EU membership terms, given hundreds of thousands of Poles living in the United Kingdom.

The UK will commit a battlegroup of around 800 military personnel for one exercise, and another 150 personnel to another. It will also send a battlegroup of around 1,000 personnel to a Polish-led joint task force in 2020, the Ministry of Defence said.

Reporting By Elisabeth O'Leary; editing by Ralph Boulton

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