Cyprus Mail

UK PM Sunak says there are no plans for now to send British troops to Ukraine

british pm meets polish president on downing street, london
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Sunday there were no immediate plans to deploy military instructors to Ukraine, rowing back from reported comments by his defence minister that he wanted to begin training Ukrainian troops in the country.

To date, Britain and its allies have avoided a formal military presence in Ukraine to reduce the risk of a direct conflict with Russia.

British defence minister Grant Shapps, who was appointed to the role last month, said in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph newspaper that he wanted to deploy military instructors to Ukraine, in addition to training Ukrainian armed forces in Britain or other Western countries.

Hours after that interview was published, Sunak said there were no immediate plans to send British troops to Ukraine.

“What the defence secretary was saying was that it might well be possible one day in the future for us to do some of that training in Ukraine,” Sunak told reporters at the start of the governing Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester.

“But that’s something for the long term, not the here and now. There are no British soldiers that will be sent to fight in the current conflict.”

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday said any British soldiers training Ukrainian troops in Ukraine would be legitimate targets for Russian forces

Britain has provided five-week military training courses to around 20,000 Ukrainians over the past year, and intends to train a similar number going forward.

In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Shapps said there was scope to offer military training within Ukraine after a discussion on Friday with British military chiefs.

“I was talking today about eventually getting the training brought closer and actually into Ukraine as well,” he was quoted as saying. “Particularly in the west of the country, I think the opportunity now is to bring more things ‘in country’,” he added.

Shapps added that he hoped British defence companies such as BAE Systems BAES.L would proceed with plans to set up arms factories in Ukraine.

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