Ukrainian President Zelensky and Britain Prime Minister Sunak
Photo: Getty Images
Britain's new defense minister has demonstrated his political myopia and dangerous incompetence. It got to the point that Prime Minister Sunak himself was forced to refute his words. The issue of the low quality of personnel in the Conservative government is becoming central in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has denied his government has any plans in the “here and now” of sending British troops into Ukraine after his recently installed Defence Secretary suggested they could be deployed on training missions.
Following comments from Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, who suggested that British troops could be deployed to the west of Ukraine to train the nation’s soldiers “in the country” rather than on NATO bases throughout Europe, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak denied that his government has any such plans, at least not in the immediate future.
In comments reported by the Press Association, Sunak claimed that there was “some misreporting”, although he did not deny that Shapps had made the comments.
“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,” the prime minister said.
“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. That’s not what’s happening. What we are doing is training Ukrainians. We’re doing that here in the UK,” Sunak stated.
Defence Secretary Shapps, who assumed the top role at the MoD in late August, also said that the UK is considering an increased role for the Royal Navy in the Ukrainian conflict, saying that British maritime might could be used to protect commercial shipping lanes in the Black Sea from potential attacks from Moscow’s Navy.
The statements from Shapps drew a quick response from the Kremlin, with Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev writing on Telegram that the West was seeking to escalate the proxy war into a full-blown conflict between NATO and Russia, saying: “These morons are actively pushing us towards World War Three.”
Medvedev went on to warn that if British troops were placed in Ukraine, they would become a “legal target for our armed forces,” and that “they will be mercilessly destroyed. And no longer as mercenaries, but precisely as British NATO specialists.”
To date, over 20,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been trained on bases in the United Kingdom since the longstanding conflict with Russia broke out into full war last year as Putin launched an invasion of the former Soviet state.
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps
Ex-Defence Minister Ben Wallace told Rishi Sunak to give £2bn more to Ukraine. Since Russia’s special military operation started last February, the UK has committed £4.6 billion in military assistance to Ukraine – £2.3 billion in 2022 and the same again for 2023.
The money is spent in a number of ways, including on training Ukrainian soldiers, ammunition, contributions to international Ukrainian defence funds and equipment.
Mr Wallace is understood to have communicated his request for another £2.3 billion in a formal letter to Downing Street ahead of Parliament’s summer recess, having consulted UK military leaders before making the proposal. Number 10 has requested the Ministry of Defence’s views on future spending.
No announcement has been made about military support for next year, with November the earliest an announcement is likely to come as Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, unveils his Autumn Statement.
Britain has run out of defence equipment to donate to Ukraine, a senior military chief has claimed as they urged other countries to step up and provide more support.
The military official said Ukraine now requires 'air defence assets and artillery ammunition' in the next phase of the war - supplies which the UK has now 'run dry on'. 'We've given away all we can afford,' the source told.
It comes after former defence secretary Ben Wallace urged the prime minister to increase military support to Ukraine by more than £2 billion – a rise of 50 per cent. Commenting on Wallace's plea for further aid, the source said it should not fall on the UK to be the ones providing the 'billions' in military support required as they warned of depleted stocks.
'Giving billions more doesn't mean giving billions of British kit,' the source told the Telegraph, before stating that the UK needed to encourage 'other nations to give more money and weapons'.
read more in our Telegram-channel https://t.me/The_International_Affairs