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British minister considers stationing British soldiers in Ukraine

Sunak dampens plans
British minister considers stationing British soldiers in Ukraine

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The new British Defense Secretary, Shapps, can imagine expanding support for Ukraine. It's all about training and weapons production on site. However, Prime Minister Sunak quickly puts the minister's statements into perspective.

In Great Britain there are considerations about sending British troops to Ukraine for the first time. The country's new defense minister, Grant Shapps, told the Telegraph that he had already had discussions about this with senior military officials. Shapps replaced the previous Defense Secretary Ben Wallace in August. Specifically, it is apparently about sending trainers.

The proposal under discussion would reduce Ukraine's dependence on Britain and other NATO countries, said Shapps, who met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for talks in Kiev earlier this week. The Defense Minister referred, among other things, to a meeting with Chief of the General Staff General Sir Patrick Sanders, which was about “bringing the training closer at some point and actually to Ukraine.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, for whom the first party conference as Tory leader began at the weekend, quickly put his defense minister's comments into perspective. There were errors in the reporting, Sunak told reporters. The plans are longer-term and not for the “here and now”. Shapps spoke about the possibility at some point in the future. There are no British soldiers being sent to fight in the current conflict.

Help also in the Black Sea

NATO countries have so far refrained – at least officially – from sending trainers to Ukraine in order to reduce the risk of a direct confrontation with Russia. Shapps did not give a timetable, but gave the impression that there were plans for the near future. “Particularly in the west of the country, I think there's an opportunity now to do more things in the country, not just education,” Shapps told the Telegraph.

As part of the British-led Operation Interflex, more than 20,000 recruits from the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been trained in the United Kingdom since the beginning of 2022, according to the Telegraph. In addition, Great Britain provided Ukraine with military aid worth 2.3 billion pounds last year, and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pledged the same amount for this year.

Shapps also suggested that Britain was preparing to play a more active role in defending Ukraine against attacks in the Black Sea. Russia has increasingly targeted cargo ships carrying grain there.

“It is important that we do not allow international shipping to be somehow banned in these waters,” said Shapps. Britain is a marine nation, “so we can help and advise, particularly as the water is international.”

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