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UK extends training for Ukrainian troops to counter 'belligerent Russia'

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
British Defense Secretary Sir Michael Fallon leaves 10 Downing Street in London on December 14, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The British government has announced that it is extending the ongoing training program for Ukrainian troops in the face of a “more belligerent Russia.”

The training would continue for at least another year as the conflict in eastern Ukraine is likely to drag on, Defense Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said on Saturday.

“Britain is stepping up in Europe and around the world,” Fallon said.

“Extending British training of Ukrainian Armed Forces sends a clear message that we support Ukraine and remain firmly committed to its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, in the face of a more belligerent Russia.”

He said thousands of service personnel would be trained by British troops, who have been deployed to about 14 sites across Ukraine since 2015.

More than 5,000 Ukrainian troops have already been trained by British forces, who will remain until early 2018 at least, according to the Ministry of Defense.

Ukrainian servicemen are seen at their positions on the front line near Avdeyevka, Ukraine, August 10, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)

The UK has around 100 active training team members in Ukraine running 30 courses for infantry, medical and logistics corps, as well as on IED clearance at any one time.

Fallon previously said that the UK would deploy hundreds of troops to the Baltic region in Europe to support its NATO allies against Russia.

In July, NATO announced it would deploy, on a rotational basis, four multinational battalions to Poland and the Baltic states—Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania—to deter what it referred to as “any Russian incursion.”

The US-led military alliance severed its ties with Moscow in 2014 and has been reinforcing its presence near Russia’s borders ever since.

The UK and Russia have strong disagreements over a number of issues, mainly the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.

MI5 chief Andrew Parker (pictured above) has previously said that Russia has been threatening the UK covertly for decades and that it presently has more methods available.

Moscow, however, strongly rejected such claims, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying that Russia sought to "promote and defend its interests abroad" but in line with international laws and based on "good and mutually beneficial relations with all partners."

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