UK will play bigger role in NATO to compensate for Brexit, defence secretary Michael Fallon has said

 
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A 500-strong battalion will be sent to Estonia (Source: Getty)

The United Kingdom will play a bigger role in NATO in order to counterbalance its vote to leave the EU, the defence secretary has said.

Michael Fallon said that it was disappointing that the UK had voted for Brexit at a dangerous time in global affairs, adding that the UK must now be even more engaging with allies.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Fallon added the deployment was to reassure allies of the UK's commitment to NATO. He said that there are areas where the UK wants to work with Russia, but it cannot forget that it tried to change international borders by force, citing the Crimea and Ukraine.

Fallon said: "It's a disappointment we're leaving the European Union because in my view it does add to what NATO gives us. But NATO is the cornerstone of our defence and what we'll be telling other leaders is we'll be doing more in NATO to compensate for our withdrawal from the EU. We'll be leading harder into the alliance and that's the purpose of the deployments we're announcing today."

Fallon's comments come as thousands of NATO troops are to be sent to the alliance's eastern frontiers as concerns about Russian aggression linger on.

At a NATO meeting today the UK is to commit hundreds of troops to be sent to Poland and Estonia.

A 500-strong battalion will be sent to Estonia and a 150-strong company of troops will be deployed in Poland, Prime Minister David Cameron will announce at a summit in Warsaw.

Speaking before the Nato meeting, which is to be his last, Cameron said: "This summit is a chance for us to reiterate our strong support for Ukraine and our other eastern allies to deter Russian aggression.

"Actions speak louder than words and the UK is proud to be taking the lead role, deploying troops across eastern Europe. It is yet another example of the UK leading in Nato."

It is expected that the UK will reiterate its commitment to the defence spending target of two per cent of GDP.

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