Alwaght- The UK announced it has no "immediate" plans to deploy military instructors to Ukraine following a stern warning from Russia that British military personnel would be considered legitimate targets for its forces.
"There are no British soldiers that will be sent to fight in the current conflict," British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Sunday, rowing back from earlier comments by his Defense Secretary Grant Shapps.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Shapps said he wanted to deploy military instructors to Ukraine to eventually get "the training brought closer and actually into Ukraine as well."
"Particularly in the west of the country, I think the opportunity now is to bring more things 'in country'," he added.
In his Sunday remarks, Sunak said, "What the defense secretary was saying was that it might well be possible one day in the future for us to do some of that training in Ukraine," adding, "But that's something for the long term, not the here and now."
Around 20,000 Ukrainians have already received training in the UK since the beginning of 2022 under the British-led Operation Interflex.
The British premier's remarks came shortly after former Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, warned that Britain's deployment of military trainers to Ukraine would "turn their instructors into a legal target for our armed forces."
“Understanding perfectly well that they will be ruthlessly destroyed and not as mercenaries, but namely as British NATO specialists,” Medvedev, who is currently the deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, added.
Ukraine's Western allies have supplied Kiev with billions of dollars in military aid since last February, when its war with Russia began.
However, they have so far avoided a formal military presence in Ukraine to reduce the risk of a direct conflict with Russia.