The UK is considering training Kyiv’s soldiers inside Ukraine amid continuing aggression by Russian forces, its newly-appointed defense minister has revealed.
The announcement comes despite Western allies avoiding a formal military presence in the war-torn nation to avoid direct conflict with Moscow.
In an interview with Sunday Telegraph, British minister Grant Shapps explained the training would bring more things “in-country,” hinting at logistics and frontline deployment.
It would also augment the foreign training being provided by international partners to make Kyiv’s soldiers more combat-ready.
“I was talking today about eventually getting the training brought closer and actually into Ukraine as well,” he remarked. “We’re seeing BAE [Systems], for example, move into manufacturing ‘in country.’”
He said the training could be held in Western Ukraine, where there is no fighting.
‘No Immediate Plans’
A few hours after Shapps aired his statement, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said there were actually no immediate plans to deploy military instructors to Kyiv.
He clarified that his defense minister’s words were nothing but a possibility in the future.
“But that’s something for the long term, not the here and now,” Sunak stressed during the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester. “There are no British soldiers that will be sent to fight in the current conflict.”
The UK will continue to train Ukrainian soldiers in Britain, and it targets to involve around 20,000 more servicemen in the coming months.
On Sunday, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned that British soldiers training Ukrainian troops in Kyiv would be “legitimate targets” for Russian forces.
It would also be the same for any defense firm establishing weapons production facilities in the war-torn nation, he said.
According to Medvedev, such actions by Western nations would only bring World War III closer.
“[This will] turn their instructors into a legal target for our armed forces … understanding perfectly well that they will be ruthlessly destroyed,” he wrote on Telegram. “And not as mercenaries, but namely as British NATO specialists.”