Britain ‘highly unlikely’ to send troops to Ukraine – minister
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has admitted it’s unlikely that the UK will send military forces to help defend Ukraine in the event of a conflict with Russia. He disclosed that Kiev is aware of the situation.
“It’s a fact [that Ukraine is] not a member of NATO, so it is highly unlikely that anyone is going to send troops into Ukraine to challenge Russia,” Wallace told The Spectator during a pre-Christmas TV special on Thursday. “We shouldn’t kid people … that we would.”
“The Ukrainians are aware of that,” the minister added, explaining that an attack on Ukraine would not be automatically considered an attack on NATO. Under Article 5 of the bloc’s founding charter, all NATO member states are legally bound to defend each other.
Wallace repeated the claim made by some Western officials and the media that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been gathering troops and military hardware close to Ukraine’s border with the possible intention of launching an invasion.
“The Russian military buildup is for a purpose. We aren’t sure that [Putin hasn’t] definitely made a decision. But, nevertheless, his actions and his military preparations indicate that way,” Wallace said. “We should all be worried.”
The minister said that London has been supporting Ukraine diplomatically, and warning Russia of consequences should it attack its neighbor.
Moscow has consistently denied having plans for a military incursion in Ukraine. Putin told reporters this month that Russia conducts “a peaceful foreign policy,” but will defend its security interests. He said Moscow is concerned that Ukraine could join NATO in the future, which would lead to Western military bases and weapons deployed on its territory.
Russia has proposed non-aggression agreements, submitted to NATO and the US this week, which would prohibit further expansion of the bloc along Russia’s western border. If signed, the deal would effectively make it impossible for Ukraine to join NATO.