Johnson orders UK armed forces to prepare for deployment

The United Kingdom is preparing for a potential major deployment of troops across Europe next week as tensions continue to rise over the threat of a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement on Saturday.

The offer the U.K. is considering making to other NATO members would double the number of British troops deployed in Eastern Europe and send defensive weapons to Estonia in an effort to strengthen borders in eastern Europe, according to a statement Johnson put out on Saturday, Reuters reported.

"I have ordered our Armed Forces to prepare to deploy across Europe next week, ensuring we are able to support our NATO allies," the prime minister said in the statement, per the wire service.

"This package would send a clear message to the Kremlin — we will not tolerate their destabilizing activity, and we will always stand with our NATO allies in the face of Russian hostility," the statement continued.

British officials will meet on Monday to discuss military options and finalize the decision next week, according to Reuters.

The White House has warned of an imminent threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine as Moscow has amassed more than 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border. The U.K.'s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office last week said it had obtained information indicating that the Russian government is planning to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine.

Russia has denied having any plan to invade Ukraine.

President Biden said on Friday that he plans to send a small number of U.S. troops to Eastern Europe in the "near term," indicating that some of the 8,500 troops the Pentagon has put on heightened alert for potential deployment to NATO countries in Eastern Europe could deploy soon.

On Friday, Johnson's administration said the prime minister was planning to visit Russia and talk to Putin over the phone in an effort to prevent an invasion.

Johnson, who has previously said any Russian incursion into Ukraine would be a "disaster for the world," also plans to meet with NATO allies early next month, Reuters reported.

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