Hammond announces UK offer of RAF Typhoons to Nato

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The UK is to offer Royal Air Force Typhoon aircraft to Nato "air policing" efforts in the east of Europe following Russian action in Crimea, the defence secretary has announced.

Philip Hammond said the aircraft would be available from late April to bolster the Polish contribution to the routine Nato defensive operations over Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

He was speaking during his department's question session on 17 March 2014, after Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh reflected that it was a relief Ukraine had not been made a Nato member "otherwise we might now be involved in a European war".

Mr Hammond said: "The status of Ukraine is quite different from the status of Nato countries. Nato countries enjoy the article 5 guarantee which protects and assures their security, but we are doing everything we can to reassure our Nato allies about the protection we offer."

He continued: "We are doing everything we can to reassure our Nato allies about the protection we offer and I am able to advise the House this afternoon we have taken the decision this morning to offer to Nato UK Typhoon aircraft from late April to augment the Polish contribution to the Nato Baltic air policing mission.

"I hope that will provide reassurance to our Nato allies in the east."

At the end of the session, Speaker John Bercow announced there would be a tribute session, on Thursday, to former cabinet minister and veteran left-wing campaigner Tony Benn, who died on 14 March.

The 88-year-old former Labour MP had been seriously ill.

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