Michael Fallon: UK will commit 1,000 troops to Nato rapid response force for further three years

Lynsey Barber
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UK troops will join Nato forces until 2021 (Source: Getty)

The defence secretary Michael Fallon has promised to commit UK troops to Nato's rapid response force for a further three years to fight threats from Russia and elsewhere

Ahead of a meeting of Nato defence ministers due to be held in Brussels this week, Fallon promised support of 1,000 troops every year to Nato's new task force until 2021.

"When it comes to our commitment to Nato and deterring Russian aggression, the UK is in it for the long term. That’s why ahead of this week’s Nato defence ministerial meeting, I can announce that we will commit a battle group of around 1,000 personnel to the new rapid reaction force every year from its launch and into the next decade," said Fallon, defending the UK's military spending in the Telegraph.

"No country in Europe is playing such a strong global role. We can do this because we maintain a £34bn defence budget, the fifth biggest in the world. And we can only go on spending on defence because our government is growing our economy and bringing our public finances back into balance," he said.

Read more: Nato members account for over half the fastest falling defence budgets - as Russia's spending soars

The ministry of defence (MOD) has been in the firing line to make £1bn of cuts. This could put at risk the UK's commitment of spending two per cent of GDP on the military - a target set by Nato - however, the MOD has insisted that it will hit the target.

"This step-up in our international defence effort is needed because the world is becoming a darker place," Fallon continued.

"The rules-based system under which states live and trade with each other faces new, multiple and concurrent threats. Russia attempts to change international borders by force. Isil advances a brutal caliphate across Syria and Iraq. Failing states in Africa fall prey to insurgency, triggering large-scale migration. Terrorism has come to the streets of London, Brussels and Paris."

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show this morning, Fallon said "I want to fulfil our commitments" in response to a question about the two per cent defence spending target.

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