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Photo used for illustrative purposes./Photo Courtesy Gulf Today

The UK is sending around 8,000 of its troops to take part in exercises across Eastern Europe in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The historic move, which will also see dozens of tanks deployed to countries ranging from Finland to North Macedonia this summer, will mark the largest deployment in Europe since the Cold War.

The thousands of British troops will be joined by tens of thousands of troops from Nato and the Joint Expeditionary Force alliance, which includes Finland and Sweden.

The plans have been in the works for a long time, according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), but it had been enhanced in response in light of what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Commander Field Army lieutenant general Ralph Wooddisse said: “The UK makes a significant contribution to the defence of Europe and the deterrence of Russian aggression. The British Army’s series of exercises is fundamental to both, according to the Independent.

“The scale of the deployment, coupled with the professionalism, training and agility of the British Army, will deter aggression on a scale not seen in Europe this century.”

Britain’s deployment is expected to build to a peak of around 8,000 personnel operating in mainland Europe between April and June.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The security of Europe has never been more important. These exercises will see our troops join forces with allies and partners across Nato and the Joint Expeditionary Force in a show of solidarity and strength in one of the largest shared deployments since the Cold War.”

Meanwhile, troops from the Queen’s Royal Hussars have been deployed to Finland – which shares an 830-mile land border with Russia – for embedding in an armoured brigade.

Exercises alongside American troops are also taking place in Poland.

It comes as the US House of Representatives today passed legislation by 417 to 10 that will make it easier to export military equipment to Ukraine, reviving the “Lend-Lease Act” that helped defeat Hitler during the Second World War.

It will next go to the White House for President Joe Biden to sign into law.

The measure will allow Washington to lend or lease military equipment to US allies. In this case, it will help those affected by Russia’s invasion, such as Poland and other eastern European countries including Ukraine.

“Today the Ukrainian people are standing on the front lines in the fight for democracy and against tyranny, and the US needs to provide them with every possible measure of humanitarian and military aid,” Democratic representative Mary Gay Scanlon said, urging support for the bill.

Among other provisions, the bill would allow the United States to provide equipment to Ukraine now with just a technical requirement to pay at some later date – essentially giving it to the Kyiv government. Gulf Today

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrived in Ukraine late Wednesday for talks with Ukrainian officials. Photo courtesy of United Nations/Twitter 

April 28 (UPI) -- United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other officials on Thursday in Kyiv as he seeks to improve the humanitarian situation in the war-torn country. The U.N. chief landed in Kyiv late Wednesday after meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

"We will continue our work to expand humanitarian support & secure the evacuation of civilians from conflict zones," Guterres tweeted on landing in Ukraine. "The sooner this war ends, the better -- for the sake of Ukraine, Russia and the world."

Guterres had embarked upon the his Europe trip Monday, which began with a stop over in Turkey for talks with its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, before heading to Moscow for talks with Putin, who agreed "in principle" to allow the U.N. and the International Committee of the Red Cross to be involved in evacuating civilians from an iron and steel plant in the besieged southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol. 

Russian attacks have targeted the Azovstal plant where resistant fighters and civilians have sought refuge. The ICRC over the weekend called for immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access to allow thousands of civilians and hundreds of wounded to evacuate from the city and the plant. 

Fahan Haq, deputy spokesman for Guterres, told reporters during a press briefing Wednesday that the U.N. held follow-up conversations about those evacuations efforts with officials in Moscow and Kyiv, specifically about developing an operational framework for that effort.

"Speed is of the essence," he said, adding they have put people on the ground to in preparation.

"Ultimately, what we want is to make sure a cease-fire would be respected that would allow us to move people safely," he said.

The evacuations, however, depend on the outcome of discussions with both parties, he added.

Guterres' trip to Ukraine comes as the country's defense minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, warned of "extremely difficult weeks ahead."

"The enemy is fully aware of its strategic defeat, but will still try to harm us as much as possible," he said in a post on Facebook. "Unfortunately, we will still lose members of our armed forces because we achieve victory. There will still be destruction and painful casualties."

Ahead of the trip Haq had told reporters that Guterres believed that there was a "real opportunity" to achieve either a cease-fire or concrete improvements in the humanitarian situation in Ukraine.

Russia invaded Ukraine Feb. 24, resulting in nearly 2,800 civilians killed and more than 5.3 million forced to flee the country, according to U.N. data. UPI

 

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi arrived in Uganda on Wednesday afternoon for a three-day official visit.

He was received at Entebbe International Airport by Foreign Affairs Minister Gen. Jeje Odongo and other Ugandan officials.

Mr Nyusi received a 21-gun salute on arrival at the airport and will hold bilateral talks with his host President Yoweri Museveni in the afternoon.

President Nyusi and President Museveni are set to hold discussions on strengthening historical ties, and political, economic, social and cultural cooperation between the two countries.

Mozambique and Uganda have enjoyed good relations of friendship, solidarity, cooperation and camaraderie since the national liberation struggle stemming from the 1970s during the days of Frelimo, as the country fought for independence.

According to President Yoweri Museveni, 28 of the soldiers who formed the Front for National Salvation, which later became the National Resistance Army before it became the Uganda People’s Defence Force, were trained at Montepuez, the second largest city in the province of Cabo Delgado, in Mozambique.

Only four—Gen. Yoweri Museveni, Gen. Caleb Akandwanaho, Gen. Ivan Koreta and Brig. Bosco Omure—out of this team are still alive.

The same group comprised of a number of trainees, such as the late Fred Rwigyema, the founder of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, a group that later fought and captured power in 1994 in Rwanda.

In 2018, President Nyusi hosted Museveni in Maputo for official talks during a three-day visit, during which a general cooperation agreement on defence, tourism, diplomacy and trade was inked.

During that visit, Museveni said the Ugandan army had its roots in Mozambique.

The Mozambique Presidency says both Heads of State will assess the stage of bilateral cooperation, with emphasis on the decisions taken during Museveni’s last State visit to Mozambique.

Mozambique exports to Uganda mainly sea food, cashew nuts, sugar and coal, while Kampala exports maize, beans, timber, fruits, beef, and coffee to Maputo. - NELSON NATURINDA, The EastAfrican, Additional reporting by Arnaldo Vieira

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