All British troops will be withdrawn from Ukraine, as Russia could invade “at no notice,” British Defense Minister James Heappey said Saturday, according to the Independent.
Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s “Today,” Heappey said “all of them will be withdrawn. There will be no British troops in Ukraine if there is to be a conflict there.”
“We are now confident that the artillery systems, the missile systems and the combat air are all in place that would allow Russia to launch – at no notice – an attack on Ukraine,” he continued.
“And on that basis, I think it is our responsibility to share with UK citizens our view that they should leave the country immediately while commercial means are still available.”
Heappey also said sending a military presence to Ukraine would play into Putin’s hands by presenting Russia as the victim of western menaces.
“Putin and his colleagues would very much like to be able to say what they may do is a consequence of Western aggression in Ukraine,” he stated. “So it’s very important to us, to everybody frankly involved, that we’re very clear we won’t play an active part in Ukraine.”
Conversely, the Independent’s report adds that Tom Tugendhat, the Conservative chair of the British Commons foreign affairs committee, has said Ukrainian armed forces are “increasingly capable” of defending themselves without NATO involvement.
“We’re enabling them to have the ability to fight themselves, and having served in combat in countries around the world I can tell you that training local forces to fight for themselves is a significantly better defensive technique than putting troops in,” Tugendhat says.
“The reality is that the Ukrainians already have some 145,000 in their army, they have another … 100-odd thousand border guard reserves and people like that, so they have a significantly larger army even than we do and they are increasingly capable to defend themselves.”
But despite Tugendhat’s comments, Tobias Ellwood, the chair of the Commons defense committee, said that such an invasion of Ukraine is “our Cuban Missile Crisis moment,” and that British-led NATO divisions should be sent to Ukraine.
“An invasion is imminent,” Ellwood said. “Once that happens, because of the grain that comes out of Ukraine for the world, (that will) affect food prices across the world.”
“Oil and gas prices will be affected as well, and European security will then be threatened further, so we have to ask ourselves, what should we do instead?”
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