The United Kingdom’s defence ministry is considering deploying soldiers to Ukraine, amidst the ongoing war, for training. Reportedly, the move was suggested to reduce Ukraine’s dependence on the military bases of the UK and other NATO nations.
Britain’s defence secretary Grant Shapps, in a recent meeting with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reportedly discussed the idea with the latter and about possibly beginning British defence manufacturing within Ukraine. The UK is also planning to provide naval support to cargo ships in the Black Sea, following Russia’s withdrawal from the grain deal which facilitated the export of grains from the war-torn country.
Shapps has reportedly discussed the idea of deploying British soldiers with military chiefs. The Guardian quoted Shapps as saying, “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 (UK defence firm), for example, move into manufacturing in country, for example.” Shapps made the comments after holding discussions with General Sir Patrick Sanders, the chief of the general staff and other senior military personnel in the country.
If Britain deploys its soldiers to Russia, it would be the first instance of presence of foreign military personnel in Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s invasion on Ukraine in February 2022. Russia had earlier said that foreign military aid to Ukraine was its legitimate targets.
The UK has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine since the beginning of the war and has been providing military support to Ukraine – training Ukrainian soldiers and providing the country with arms and ammunition. The UK was the first country to respond to Ukraine’s appeal for military tanks and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also pledged British military would provide the necessary training for the Ukrainian crew.
The Guardian reported that UK and 10 other nations have trained 26,500 recruits and is on track to have trained more than 30,000 soldiers by the end of the year.
On providing naval support to Ukraine, Shapps said, “It’s important that we don’t allow a situation to establish by default that somehow international shipping isn’t allowed in that water (Black Sea). So I think there are a lot of places where Britain can help advise. [I] did discuss it with president Zelenskyy and many others this week,” The Guardian reported.
UK has reportedly provided Ukraine with £2.3bn in military aid to Ukraine in 2022.