LONDON (Agencies): Grant Shapps, the newly-appointed Defense Secretary, has revealed discussions regarding expanding the UK-led training program for Ukrainian troops. He also raised the possibility of relocating British instructors to Ukraine and offering unspecified naval support in the Black Sea to Kyiv.
Following a visit to a training ground on Salisbury Plain, Shapps mentioned plans to bring training closer to Ukraine. He stated, “I was talking today about eventually getting the training brought closer and actually into Ukraine as well.”
His recent trip to Kyiv led him to see an “opportunity” to “bring more things into the country,” not limited to training but also encompassing weapons manufacturing.
Shapps praised British arms company BAE Systems for its plans to localize production in Ukraine, expressing eagerness for other British companies to follow suit.
During discussions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Shapps reportedly suggested that Britain’s Navy could defend commercial vessels in the Black Sea.
The UK has been involved in training and arming Ukrainian troops since 2015, with operations shifting out of Ukraine over time. While the British Royal Marines conducted discreet operations in Ukraine last year, London officially denied a significant presence in the country after the escalation of the conflict with Russia in 2022.
Leaked US military documents earlier this year suggested the presence of around 50 British special operatives in Ukraine.
An open deployment of British military personnel would represent another escalation.
The UK became the first NATO country to supply depleted uranium shells and long-range cruise missiles to Ukraine, which were used in attacks against Russian infrastructure.
Moscow has characterized the conflict in Ukraine as a battle between Russia and the “entire Western military machine.” Russian President Vladimir Putin previously stated that there are military units in Ukraine “under the de-facto command of Western advisers.”
British intelligence experts were reportedly involved in studying ways to attack Russia’s Crimea Bridge using divers or maritime drones. Although last year’s attack on the bridge utilized a truck bomb, Kyiv employed suicide sea drones in a July strike targeting the bridge.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused UK and US intelligence agencies of helping coordinate a recent Ukrainian strike on Sevastopol, Crimea, targeting the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.