US ramps up military presence in Europe in biggest Nato defence 'overhaul' since Cold War

30 June 2022, 06:15 | Updated: 30 June 2022, 06:20

President Joe Biden said the additional US deployments would “send an unmistakable message" to Russia.
President Joe Biden said the additional US deployments would “send an unmistakable message" to Russia. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

The US will significantly increase its number of forces and weaponry in Europe in the biggest overhaul to Nato's defences since the Cold War.

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President Joe Biden said the additional US deployments would “send an unmistakable message that Nato is strong and united”.

The alliance is having its biggest overhaul since the Cold War in response to Russia's "barbaric" invasion of Ukraine, the head of the alliance Jens Stoltenberg said.

A permanent headquarters will be established by the US in Poland, while it will also send an additional 5,000 troops to Romania and increase rotational deployments in the Baltic states, Mr Biden said.

It comes as Moscow steps up its attacks in Ukraine, obliterating a shopping mall in the city of Kremenchuk where hundreds of residents were taking shelter.

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Russian missile hits Kremenchuk shopping centre in CCTV footage

At least 20 people died in the strike and up to 60 people are still thought to be missing in the rubble.

G7 leaders condemned the attack in a statement late on Monday, saying "indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians constitute a war crime".

They said President Putin and others responsible "will be held to account".

At a Nato summit on Tuesday the alliance agreed to an overhaul of its strategy for defending eastern Europe from Moscow.

President Joe Biden said the US would enhance its military presence in Europe “to defend every inch of allied territory”.

Mr Biden said Nato was "needed now more than it has ever been".

More than 300,000 Nato troops will be put at high readiness next year, up from the current level of 40,000.

Mr Biden told a summit in Madrid that Nato would be "strengthened in all directions across every domain - land, air and sea".

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Meanwhile, the UK will provide an additional £1 billion in military aid for Ukraine, a near-doubling in its support for the fight against the Russian invasion.

The new funding takes the military aid given to Kyiv to £2.3bn - and the UK has also spent £1.5bn in humanitarian and economic support for Ukraine.

Boris Johnson said British spending was "transforming Ukraine's defences".

It comes after the head of the British Army warned the UK must be ready for war with Russia.

General Sir Patrick Sanders said Britain and its NATO allies must be "unequivocally prepared to fight" if Russia attacks any of their territory.

Read more: Horror moment Russian missile obliterates shopping mall in Ukraine

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He argued it is essential they have the forces in place to deter further Russian aggression if they are to avoid an even more deadly conflict in future.

Addressing Nato leaders at their summit in Madrid on Wednesday via video link, Mr Zelensky said they needed more modern weapons systems and artillery to "break the Russian artillery advantage".

"Russia still receives billions every day and spends them on war. We have a multibillion-dollar deficit, we don't have oil and gas to cover it," Mr Zelensky said.