Ukraine wants retired British warships – navy chief
Kiev would be happy to receive two British Navy warships that London is reportedly about to decommission, Ukrainian Vice Admiral Aleksey Neizhpapa has told Sky News. Earlier this month, The Telegraph claimed that the HMS Westminster and HMS Argyll would be retired later this year, amid struggles to recruit enough sailors to operate the vessels.
In mid-December, the UK’s Ministry of Defence announced plans to provide Kiev with two mine-clearing ships as part of a new maritime coalition, which also involves Norway. However, the vessels have yet to reach Ukrainian shores, after Türkiye refused to let them pass through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, which connect the Black Sea with the Mediterranean.
When asked whether Ukraine would be interested in London’s two Type 23 frigates during an Sky interview on Saturday, Neizhpapa said: “Of course, the [Ukrainian] Navy needs warships… if such a decision is taken concerning the possibility of handing over two frigates to the Navy, we will be very happy.”
Earlier this month, The Telegraph quoted an anonymous defense source as explaining the need to retire HMS Westminster and HMS Argyll as follows: “We will have to take manpower from one area of the Navy in order to put [it] into a new area of the force.”
The sailors are allegedly expected to crew newer vessels, with the two frigates to be either scrapped or sold to an ally.
Under the UK-Ukraine Agreement on Security Cooperation signed between London and Kiev on January 12, Britain pledged, among other things, “support to Ukraine’s development of a Navy and the Sea Guard.”
Commenting on the accord, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted that it contains no “legally binding provisions” on the part of Britain. The diplomat stressed that the signing of the document would not change Russia’s goals in Ukraine.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who currently serves as the deputy head of the Russian Security Council, said that any deployment of British troops to Ukraine would be seen as a “declaration of war.”
Russia has repeatedly warned the West that military aid to Ukraine only serves to prolong bloodshed and also unnecessarily increases the risk of a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia.