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15 May, 2024 21:59

Britain against sending Western troops to Ukraine – defense minister

Grant Shapps did not rule out sending former soldiers to train Ukrainians
Britain against sending Western troops to Ukraine – defense minister

Putting British or other NATO boots on the ground in Ukraine would not make sense, but there are other ways of helping Kiev, British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps has said.

Some officials in Kiev have proposed sending Western military veterans as civilian contractors to train Ukrainian soldiers inside the country in order to quickly raise enough brigades to offset battlefield losses. 

“I don’t want to step over that line that puts British, sort of, troops on the ground in Ukraine. I don’t think that makes sense to do. But what I do think is sensible is potentially moving training closer,” Shapps said on Wednesday, speaking to a Telegraph podcast about the situation in Ukraine.

“There may be other models that we could look at. Not something I would want to go into in detail currently,” the defense minister added.

He pointed out that the UK has already trained 65,000 Ukrainian soldiers since 2014, most of them since February 2022, and that London’s commitment to Kiev “is absolutely rock-solid.”

Shapps admitted that the situation north of Kharkov is rather dire for the Ukrainian military and blamed it on “the civilized world” not paying attention. 

“I think the world took its eye off the ball,” Shapps told the Telegraph, but added, “I think it’s rescuable, at this stage.”

According to Shapps, other “civilized” countries should follow the UK´s lead and send even more money to Kiev, to ensure that Ukraine has all the weapons, training and equipment it needs to defeat Russia.

Earlier this week, Shapps told Times Radio that London saw “no sense at all” in persuading or “strong-arming” Kiev into accepting any peace conditions and “giving up some of their territory” to Moscow.

Boris Johnson, who was the British prime minister at the time, made a similar argument during his visit to Kiev in April 2022, which was seen as crucial in persuading Ukraine to reject a proposed armistice with Russia and continue fighting.

Shapps was appointed defense minister last August. Unlike his predecessor Ben Wallace, he has no military experience, having been a printing salesman before entering politics. He has served in a variety of cabinet posts under several Tory governments, from housing and transportation to Home Office and net zero.