Home » UK Reveals It’s Supplying Ukraine With More ‘self-Defence’ Weapons’ As Russian Troops Mass On Border

UK Reveals It’s Supplying Ukraine With More ‘self-Defence’ Weapons’ As Russian Troops Mass On Border

Britain is supplying Ukraine with ‘self-defence’ weapons and training to help increase its defensive capabilities in the face of a possible Russian invasion.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said today the weapons were protective rather than aggressive.

He said light anti-armour defensive weapons systems would be supplied to Ukraine, with a ‘small number’ of UK personnel travelling to the country to provide training.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace (pictured) said Britain will supply Ukraine with ‘self-defence’ weapons and training to help increase its defensive capabilities

It comes as the threat of a Russian invasion has increased over the last few months. Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers stand in a trench near the front line on January 17, in the village of New York, formerly known as Novhorodske, Ukraine

Russia conducted military drills with tanks and explosives in an attempted show of strength

Mr Wallace said: ‘We have taken the decision to supply Ukraine with light anti-armor defensive weapon systems.

‘They are not strategic weapons and pose no threat to Russia. They are to use in self-defence.’

He called on his Russian counterpart General Sergey Shoygu to visit London in the next few weeks to discuss the crisis and ‘issues related to mutual security concerns and engage constructively in good faith’.

Negotiations last week between Russian and Western diplomats, who were hoping to defuse the prospect of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, ended inconclusively

An Ukrainian soldier dressed in camouflage and armed with a rifle walks in a trench near the border with Russia

In recent months, Russia has amassed forces and military equipment near the Ukrainian border, raising the possibility of an invasion

A soldier from Ukraine uses a hand-held periscope to view the positions of Russian-backed troops in a trench near the front line

The announcement came after he warned tens of thousands of Russian troops were positioned next to the Ukrainian border, explaining the deployment is ‘not routine’ and they are equipped with tanks, armoured fighting vehicles, rocket artillery and short-range ballistic missiles.

He told MPs there was ‘real cause of concern’ over the scale of the force being assembled by the Kremlin, supported by Russian air and maritime forces.

Russia’s presence and levels of readiness contributed to a ‘destabilising and coercive atmosphere that risks miscalculation at best and at worst conflict’, Mr Wallace said.

After highlighting previous work as part of Operation Orbital, the UK’s training mission in Ukraine, Mr Wallace outlined new support being provided.

He told the Commons: ‘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.

‘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.

An Ukrainian soldier called Maksym feeds a woodstove to heat a small bunker on the front line on January 17

An invasion would likely come from the country’s east, where separatists have waged a nearly 8-year war against the Ukrainian government. Pictured: A Ukrainian soldier armed with a gun

Ben Wallace told MPs there was ‘real cause of concern’ over the scale of the force being assembled by the Kremlin. Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers climb up a small hill in a trench near the front line

‘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.’

Mr Wallace reiterated there is a ‘package of international sanctions ready to go’ should any ‘destabilising action’ by Russia in Ukraine take place.

He noted any invasion will be viewed as an ‘occupation’. He added: ‘I fear it could lead to a huge loss of life on all sides.

Mr Wallace said: ‘Ukraine has every right to defend its borders and this new package of aid further enhances its ability to do so.’ Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers in a trench near the front line

‘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.’

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.’

Mr Wallace’s comments came after Russia held sniper drills and reportedly sent two short-range ballistic missile systems to the Ukrainian border today amid warnings that a war between the two nations is ‘imminent’.

Video shows Putin’s army carrying out shooting exercises in the Rostov region bordering Ukraine on Monday

Russia has amassed tanks, artillery and tens of thousands of troops near the border of Ukraine and demanded guarantees that its neighbour will never join NATO.

In the Voronezh region, which borders Ukraine, crews of T-72B3 tanks were drilled in ‘the skills of night driving combat vehicles in heavy snowfall and a blizzard at the Krinitsa training ground’.

Russia has repeatedly denied any intention of invading Ukraine, and insisted it has the right to move military equipment and troops on its own territory.

An exercise in moving military equipment from the east of Russia was announced last week.

Ukraine has said citing OSCE monitoring evidence that 99 Russian units of military equipment have been recorded in rebel-held Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Russian troops from the western military district in tank ambush drills

On Sunday, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg again called on Russia to de-escalate, adding that ‘we are ready to sit down and also listen to their concerns’.

Putin’s spokesman Peskov said that there were ‘some understandings between’ Russia and the West.

‘But in general, in principle, we can now say that we are staying on different tracks, on totally different tracks. And this is not good. This is disturbing,’ he told CNN.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Kyiv and its Western partners were working on a broad ‘package to contain Russia’ that would include ‘painful’ new sanctions and moves to ramp up defence cooperation with the West.

‘If Putin wants to know why neighbours are seeking to join NATO he only needs to look in the mirror,’ he said in remarks released by the foreign ministry on Sunday.