London,Warsaw-Britain has said that its commitment to deploy troops in Eastern Europe is a reflection of its will to consolidate itself as a strong partner of NATO, stressing that its decision to leave the European Union during a referendum held on June 23 does not mean it will retreat “into its shell.”
Outgoing British Prime Minister David Cameron announced during a NATO summit held in Warsaw on Friday that his country intends to deploy 650 soldiers in eastern European states as part of efforts to strengthen European defenses against Russia.
Russia was meant to be the focus of the two-day meeting, with NATO endorsing its biggest revamp in 15 years in response to Moscow’s 2014 intervention in Ukraine.
Britain’s decision to leave the EU also dominated the talks.
British voters’ decision in the June 23 referendum to back leaving the EU does not change the country’s commitment to remain a strong partner in NATO, Britain’s Minister for Defense Procurement Philip Dunne said on Friday.
Speaking at the Royal International Air Tattoo, the world’s largest military air show, Dunne told reporters: “(Britain is) not retreating into its shell.”
Britain remains the largest international partner on the Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) F-35 fighter jet program, with about 15 percent of each jet produced by firms in Britain, Dunne said.
“We see no reason why that can’t continue in the future,” he added.
U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein said he saw no sign that Britain was retreating from its NATO commitments or from its strong defense ties to the United States following the vote to leave the EU.
“I’ve heard no one talking about backing off an inch” from commitments to the NATO alliance, Goldfein told reporters at the Royal International Air Tattoo.
Goldfein added it was too early to make predictions about the long-term effects of the British referendum decision.