Russia to investigate alleged SAS activities in Ukraine
Russia’s Investigative Committee said on Saturday that it will look into media reports that sabotage experts from the British Army’s special forces have been deployed in western Ukraine.
“This data is going to be checked thoroughly,” especially considering the fact that Special Air Service (SAS) forces have established themselves as “experts in organizing mass protests, assassinations of political figures as well as preparing terrorist attacks,” the agency said in a statement.
This comes after a security source told RIA Novosti earlier in the day that at least two groups of British servicemen had arrived at a Ukrainian Air Force base in the town of Brody in the Lviv region. They traveled all the way from “the city of Hereford in the UK, where SAS headquarters is located,” the source said.
Each group allegedly consists of between 8 to 10 officers, specializing in sabotage, guerrilla warfare, and the recruitment of agents to work in hostile territory. SAS experts are considered to be among the best in the world in these areas, according to the source.
“Those aren’t ordinary special forces. They’re intellectuals. In each group there is always an ideologist – a professor of sorts – and the rest are experts in their specific areas,” he explained.
When deployed in conflict areas, SAS sabotage teams usually operate under the guise of medical or humanitarian workers, including the White Helmets group, which was active during the Syrian conflict, according to the source.
“It’s highly likely that these specialists arrived in order to improve the Ukrainian special forces’ skills and efficiency in coordinating activities of their sabotage groups on the Ukrainian territories currently controlled by the Russian forces,” he said.
The UK has been one of Ukraine’s primary backers and arms suppliers during its ongoing conflict with Russia. London has sent weapons ranging from anti-tank and anti-aircraft missile systems, to armored vehicles to Kiev. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to the Ukrainian capital to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky and personally assure him of Britain’s support.
Last week, The Times reported that SAS troops were also in Kiev training their Ukrainian counterparts to use British NLAWs shoulder-fired anti-tank missile launchers.
A few days ago, Johnson revealed that some Ukrainian servicemen were in the UK, where they are being trained to operate the 120 armored vehicles provided by London. Another group of British experts were training Kiev’s forces in Poland to use anti-aircraft hardware, he added.
On Friday, the British prime minister acknowledged that there was a “realistic possibility” of Russia achieving military victory in Ukraine, insisting that the weapon deliveries to Kiev should be ramped up.
Moscow has repeatedly condemned the arms supplies to Kiev sent by NATO countries, saying they only destabilize the situation on the ground and hamper the prospects for peace. It also insists that Western convoys will become legitimate targets for the Russian forces once they cross into Ukrainian territory.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered protocols were 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.