As the prospect of a Russian invasion into Ukraine becomes greater every day, European and NATO allies are preparing for a potential ground conflict in Ukraine if diplomatic talks fail to ease the ongoing tension. Russia has stationed more than 100,000 troops close to its border with Ukraine in an act of aggression – but President Vladimir Putin has denied any invasion is planned.
US President Joe Biden has told US citizens in Ukraine should leave, warning any Americans still in the country: ”We’re dealing with one of the largest armies in the world. It’s a very different situation and things could go crazy quickly.”
Boris Johnson has warned Europe is facing its biggest security crisis in decades as the tensions show few signs of deescalating but urged President Putin to solve the crisis diplomatically, and Liz Truss accused Russia of pushing “Cold War rhetoric”.
Mr Johnson said “something absolutely disastrous could happen very soon indeed” and warned “there will be bloodshed” if an invasion takes place.
Ms Truss said at a press conference in Russia on Thursday: “There is still time for Russia to end its aggression towards Ukraine and pursue the path of diplomacy.
“But NATO is very clear that if that path is not chosen there will be severe consequences for Russia, Ukraine and the whole of Europe.”
The UK is already providing Ukraine with defensive equipment, including body armour, helmets and combat boots, and has sent 1,000 troops should a humanitarian crisis erupt.
Some European countries have committed to offering troops if an incursion does occur, but the EU’s first line of defence is the introduction of severe sanctions on President Putin’s country – something the UK is also considering.
France has a huge number of military aircrafts – 1,262 – and 406 combat tanks and 118 naval assets.
Germany also has one of the world’s largest military forces – but is smaller than both France and the UK.
Germany has a budget of £37 billion a year, which pays for 208,000 military personnel, 714 aircrafts, 432 combat tanks and 81 naval assets.
Italy boats 267,000 military personell, as well as 200 combat tanks and 143 naval assets, with a defence budget of £31 billion.
Some countries in the EU have much smaller armies than the likes of France, Germany and Spain,
For example, Belgium has a defence budget of £3.6 billion – £36 billion less than France – and has 38,000 military personnel in total.
Portugal has a military budget less than Belgium, but has considerably more personell in its army – 268,000, with a budget of £2.8 billion.
In Scandinavia, Finland has a total military size of 262,000, with a budget of £2.65 billion, whereas Sweden has a 43,000 strong army – but almost double the defence budget at £4.5 billion a year.