United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Sunday he has no immediate plans to send troops to Ukraine, despite comments made by the recently appointed defense minister who last month suggested troops could be sent to the country to conduct training.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the UK has yet to send troops, so it could reduce the risk of a direct conflict with Russia.
British Defense Minister Grant Shapps told The Sunday Telegraph newspaper last month he wanted to send military instructors to Ukraine and train their forces in Britain or other western countries.
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But Shapps’ vision and Sunak’s vision did not appear to line up, as the prime minister, within hours, said there were no immediate plans to send British troops to Ukraine.
“What the defense 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.”
Any British troops training Ukrainian soldiers in Ukraine would become targets for Russian forces, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Sunday.
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That is not to say Britain is not providing training to Ukrainians. In fact, the UK has trained about 20,000 Ukrainians with five-week military courses over the past year, Reuters reported, and it intends to continue training a similar number of people in the future.
Shapps told The Sunday Telegraph there was scope to provide military training in Ukraine after a discussion with British military chiefs on Friday.
“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’.”
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He also said he hoped British defense companies like BAE systems would continue with plans to establish arms factories in Ukraine.
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Still, when he spoke at the Conservative Party’s annual conference, he did not speak about comments he made earlier regarding troops going to Ukraine, and instead said the war was consuming people and weapons “at an appalling rate” but “we must remain steadfast” in supporting Ukraine in its war against Russia.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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