British PM clarifies stance on troops in Ukraine
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said the UK has no plans to send military instructors to Ukraine to train local troops, claiming there was “some misreporting” of comments by Defense Secretary Grant Shapps, who floated the idea.
During a visit to Burnley on Sunday, Sunak said he wanted to make the situation “absolutely clear,” explaining that Shapps did not mean British soldiers would be deployed in Ukraine during the conflict with Russia.
The UK has been training Ukrainian soldiers on British soil for “for a long time,” he noted.
According to the PM, the defense secretary actually meant that “it might well be possible one day in the future for us to do some of that training in Ukraine.”
“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,” he insisted.
London continues to provide military training to the Ukrainians, but it’s “doing that here in the UK,” Sunak assured.
Grant Shapps told The Telegraph on Friday that he was discussing with British military chiefs the possibility of “eventually getting the training brought closer and actually into Ukraine as well.”
“I think the opportunity now is to bring more things ‘in country’,” especially to western Ukraine, he said, mentioning training as well as British defense firms launching production there.
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev labeled the UK defense secretary a “cretin” over his remarks, warning that the deployment of British instructors to Ukraine might trigger World War III.
Medvedev, who currently serves as the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, said in a post on Telegram on Sunday that British servicemen would become a “legitimate target” for Russian troops and would be “mercilessly destroyed.”
US Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene also voiced alarm over Britain’s apparent plans to send troops to Ukraine, writing on X (formerly Twitter): “They’re going to start World War III” and that “the US cannot participate” in such a deployment, stressing: “No American troops” in Ukraine.
Since the start of its military operation in Ukraine in February 2022, Moscow has repeatedly argued that the provision of arms, intelligence-sharing and training of Kiev’s troops already means that Western nations have de facto become parties to the conflict.