Britain supplied Ukraine with short-range anti-tank missiles as Ben Wallace warned fears of “loss of life on all sides” are on the rise. The decision to stand up for Kiev was described as “wise”.
Mr Wallace confirmed a small team of British troops would also be sent to Ukraine to provide training.
The Kyiv Independent journalist Illia Ponomarenko tweeted: “The British are just unstoppable these days.
“Once again, the UK finds itself on the right side of history – because it is wise enough not to be lured into going the easiest way, which is always the fastest lane straight to hell.”
Telling MPs about the support provided to Kiev, Mr Wallace explained there was “legitimate and real cause for concern” the troops on the Ukrainian border could be used for an invasion.
The Kremlin, meanwhile, denies any plans of aggression.
READ MORE: Russia warning: Canada preparing for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine – Citizens told stay away
Throughout security talks in Geneva, Vienna and Brussels last week, Moscow insisted the threats were instead coming from Ukraine and NATO, criticising their strengthening of ties.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said: “For us, it’s absolutely mandatory to make sure that Ukraine never, never, ever becomes a member of NATO.”
Such demands have become increasingly typical of Vladimir Putin’s government as it is aware being part of the security alliance would replace Kiev’s vulnerability with an important layer of strength.
As far back as 2008, NATO promised to admit Ukraine one day.
Although the group has no immediate plans to make that happen, it says Moscow cannot dictate its relations with other sovereign states.
Mr Wallace said: “We wish to be friends with the Russian people as we have been for hundreds of years. And there is a world in which we can establish a mutually beneficial relationship with Russia.
“I still remain hopeful that diplomacy will prevail. It is President Putin’s choice whether to choose diplomacy and dialogue or conflict and the consequences.”
Dozens of British troops have been in Ukraine since 2015 to help train their armed forces.
Further, the UK has also committed to helping rebuild Ukraine’s navy after Moscow seized and annexed Crimea in 2014 – an episode that has fueled the Russia-Ukraine dispute, once the two biggest republics of the Soviet Union, ever since.
Now, Moscow’s “increasingly threatening behaviour” calls for extra help for Kiev, Mr Wallace highlighted.
En route to Ukraine last night, British aircraft could be seen avoiding German airspace on flightpath tracking data after Olaf Scholz’s new government denied them access.
The move is thought to be reflective of the country’s firm stance in avoiding the conflict going any further, with the Chancellor saying during a visit to Madrid on Monday: “The situation is very serious.
“The movement of [Russian] troops along the Ukrainian border cannot be overlooked.
“It is massive, and it is a threat to the sovereignty of Ukraine. And therefore everything must be done to prevent a military escalation.”
Mr Wallace stressed: “Let me be clear: this support is for short-range and clearly defensive weapon capabilities; they are not strategic weapons and pose no threat to Russia; they are to use in self-defence.”
Vadym Prystaiko, the Ukrainian ambassador to the UK, welcomed Britain’s support but reiterated: “We wanted to be in Nato… we are facing the biggest army in Europe by ourselves.”