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26 Jan, 2022 11:37

No NATO member prepared for large-scale deployment to Ukraine, UK PM admits

Boris Johnson’s comments come as tensions run high on the Russian-Ukrainian border
No NATO member prepared for large-scale deployment to Ukraine, UK PM admits

Not a single member of NATO is ready to send a large fighting force to Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told MPs. 

Addressing parliament on Tuesday, Johnson said that “the British Army leads the NATO battle group in Estonia, and if Russia invades Ukraine, we would look to contribute to any new NATO deployments to protect our allies in Europe.” 

However, the Prime Minister stated that while “many people would yearn to send active, physical support in the form of NATO troops to Ukraine … I don’t believe that to be a likely prospect in the near term. Ukraine is not a member of NATO.” 

“But what we can do, and what we are doing, is sending troops to support Ukraine,”  he said, mentioning training operations.

Johnson’s remarks echo comments made earlier by Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, who told Sky News that it is “extremely unlikely” that British soldiers would be deployed in the event of an offensive.

Johnson cautioned that an incursion into the Eastern European nation runs the risk of turning the country into a “wasteland.” He also said that if Russian President Vladimir Putin were to choose “bloodshed,” it would be both “tragic” and “futile,” because of “ferocious” Ukrainian resistance. 

“If Russia pursues this path, many Russian mothers’ sons will not be coming home,” he remarked. “If the worst happens and the destructive firepower of the Russian Army were to engulf Ukraine’s towns and cities, I shudder to contemplate the tragedy that would ensue.”

Johnson’s remarks come amid Western leaders sounding the alarm in recent months that Moscow is amassing its troops and hardware at the shared border ahead of launching an invasion.  

On Monday, London began withdrawing staff from its embassy in Kiev “in response to growing threat” from Russia. It followed shortly after Washington made a similar move to authorize the departure of some of its representatives from their posts in the Ukrainian capital. 

The Kremlin has repeatedly rejected having any plan for a military offensive, and has called such accusations “groundless and wrong.”