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12 Apr, 2024 16:20

Sending troops to Ukraine ‘worth considering’ – ex-UK defense minister

British forces should be kept away from the front line but provide support such as training, James Heappey has said
Sending troops to Ukraine ‘worth considering’ – ex-UK defense minister

The UK should consider sending troops to Ukraine, former Minister of State for the Armed Forces James Heappey said in an interview with Sky News published on Friday.

The comments came in response to recent controversial remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron about potentially sending NATO troops to the conflict zone.

“Some of the things that Macron has suggested recently, I think are things that really do deserve consideration,” Heappey said. He warned, however, that the idea should be carefully thought through, as direct participation in the fighting could have undesirable consequences.

“I think you’ve got to be careful about how you do it. I think definitely nowhere near a combat zone. I think you’ve got to be very, very careful not to make it into a Russo-NATO war,” he said, adding that it is worth exploring what Ukraine’s “donor community” could do.

Asked whether this means British troops could be deployed on a training mission inside Ukraine, Heappey said, “it’s worth considering.”

In recent weeks, Macron has received much criticism after saying he “cannot exclude” the possibility of Western soldiers being deployed to Ukraine. Most NATO member states rushed to deny that they had any such plans.

Last month, a spokesman for UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office told TASS news agency that the UK opposes the idea of a “full-blown military deployment,” saying British soldiers will not “fight side by side” with Ukrainians.

Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur said earlier this month that every NATO member state already has military personnel in Ukraine operating as advisers or instructors. Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski made a similar comment, calling the presence of Western forces in Ukraine an “open secret.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently warned that while deploying NATO troops to Ukraine would not change the situation on the front line, it would be considered a step closer to a direct confrontation between the bloc and Russia. Moscow has also said that it will treat Western troops and foreign-supplied weapons systems on Ukrainian soil as legitimate targets.

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