Tensions between Moscow and Kiev reached boiling point last year after Russia amassed more troops near the contested borders. Since 2014, more than 14,000 people have been killed in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. In September, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned an all-out war with Russia could be a “possibility”.
Now, in a direct move against Russian President Vladimir Putin, Britain’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced the UK will provide a “new security assistance package” to aid Ukraine.
Mr Wallace told MPs: “In light of the increasingly threatening behaviour from Russia and in addition to our current support, the UK is providing a new security assistance package to increase Ukraine’s defensive capabilities.
“We have taken the decision to supply Ukraine with light anti-armour defensive weapons systems.
“A small number of UK personnel will provide early-stage training for a short period of time, within the framework of Operation Orbital, before returning to the United Kingdom.
“This security assistance package complements the training capabilities Ukraine already has and those that are also being provided by the UK and other allies in Europe and the United States.
“Ukraine has every right to defend its borders and this new package of aid further enhances its ability to do so.
“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.”
The Defence Secretary said any invasion by Russia would be viewed as an “occupation”.
He added: “I fear it could lead to a huge loss of life on all sides.
“The current difficult relationship with the Kremlin is not the one we wish it to have with the United Kingdom, it does not have to be this way.”
He went on to stress things in common between the two countries.
Mr Wallace earlier invited his Russian counterpart, Sergey Shoygu, to visit London “in the next few weeks”.
He said: “We’re ready to discuss issues related to mutual security concerns and engage constructively in good faith.”
More to follow…