UK Defence Secretary Suggests Sending British Troops to Ukraine on Training Missions

Grant Shapps, Instagram
Grant Shapps, Instagram

The United Kingdom’s recently installed defence secretary, Grant Shapps has suggested that British troops could be deployed inside Ukraine for the first time to carry out military training programmes.

Shapps, who took over the top role at the Ministry of Defence at the end of August, told The Sunday Telegraph that he will be seeking to expand Britain’s military involvement within the borders of Ukraine, despite the potential of drawing NATO into a more direct conflict with Russia.

Following a meeting with Chief of the General Staff, Gen Sir Patrick Sanders and other senior personnel at the Salisbury Plain Training Area, Shapps told the paper: “I was talking today about eventually getting the training brought closer and actually into Ukraine as well.

“Particularly in the west of the country, I think the opportunity now is to bring more things ‘in country’ – not just training, but also we’re seeing BAE [the UK defence firm], for example, move into manufacturing in country, for example.

“I’m keen to see other British companies do their bit as well by doing the same thing. So I think there will be a move to get more training and production in the country.”

The defence secretary, who met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv earlier this week, said that potentially sending British troops into the country could reduce the need for British and other NATO bases to be used for training Ukrainian soldiers.

According to the Ministry of Defence, over 20,000 members of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been trained by UK military personnel and others at British bases since the start of last year.

Shapps went on to say that the UK is also considering increasing its Naval involvement in the conflict, in order to protect commercial shipping lanes in the Black Sea from the Russian fleet.

“We’ve seen in the last month or so, developments, really the first since 2014 in the Black Sea, in Crimea, and Britain is a naval nation so we can help and we can advise, particularly since the water is international water.

“It’s important that we don’t allow a situation to establish by default that somehow international shipping isn’t allowed in that water. So I think there’s a lot of places where Britain can help advise. [I] did discuss it with President Zelensky and many others this week.”

The UK has been one of the most active supporters of the Ukrainian war effort, being the first country to send Western-made main battle tanks and long range cruise missiles to Kyiv. Last year, £2.3 billion in British taxpayer money was sent in the form of military aid to Ukraine and the same amount has been pledged for this year.

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