Ukrainian troops training on British soil – Johnson
Ukrainian are in Britain for training on how to operate armored vehicles provided by London to Kiev amid the conflict with Russia, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.
“I can say that we are currently training Ukrainians in Poland in the use of anti-aircraft defense, and actually in the UK in the use of armored vehicles,” Johnson revealed during his trip to India on Thursday.
He didn’t say how many Ukrainian troops were currently in the UK or where exactly in the country they were located.
Defense sources have told the Guardian that training to operate the military hardware usually takes a few weeks.
Earlier in April, the UK agreed to provide Ukraine with at least 120 armored vehicles, including 80 Mastiff, Husky and Wolfhound protected mobility vehicles, and 40 reconnaissance, ambulance, recovery and command armored vehicles.
Training Ukrainian servicemen in the UK wasn’t an escalatory move, Johnson’s spokesman insisted. “We are simply working together with our allies to give Ukraine the best tools to defend themselves,” he said.The Kiev troops aren’t familiar with Western hardware, so “it’s only sensible that they get requisite training to make best use of it,” the spokesman added.
With the conflict heading into its third month, NATO countries are boosting their supplies to Ukraine, offering it more advanced Western-made armaments.
Also on Thursday, US President Joe Biden announced a further $800 million in military aid to Kiev, including 72 howitzers and 144,000 artillery rounds. The Pentagon said Ukrainian troops will also train to use the former “outside the country.”
Russia has repeatedly pointed out that arms deliveries to Ukraine only destabilize the situation and hamper the prospects of peace. It also insists that Western convoys will be a legitimate target for the Russian military once they cross into Ukrainian territory.
Earlier this week, Moscow warned Washington of “unpredictable consequences” if it continued arming Kiev with increasingly sophisticated weapons. The white house responded by saying that it would not comment on an “empty threat.”
Russia attacked its neighbor following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.