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UK should consider sending troops to Ukraine: Ex-armed forces minister

UK’s former armed forces minister, and politician James Heappey. (Photo by Allstar)

UK’s former armed forces minister James Heappey has suggested that London should consider sending troops to Ukraine to give training and other support to Ukrainian forces in the war with Russia - though away from the frontline.

In an interview with Sky News published on Friday, Heappey argued that the UK should be better prepared for war at a time of growing threats, including by reinvigorating a large “strategic reserve” force of thousands of veterans who might be asked to serve again in a national crisis.

He said that support for Ukraine could influence both British and broader European security.

Heappey encouraged the UK and its allies to expand the range of weapons they are prepared to provide to Kiev as the Ukrainian military faces challenges in the war.

"I think we've got to shake the tree again right now for what more we could give from our current inventories. What is the next capability threshold that we could go to beyond Storm Shadow [cruise missiles]?," he said.

Following French prime minister Emmanuel Macron's suggestion that Western nations may need to send troops to Ukraine, Heappey voiced support for the plan, saying: "Some of the things that Macron has suggested recently, I think are things that really do deserve consideration."

But he voiced caution, in terms of sending soldiers to fight. He added: "I think you've got to be careful about how you do it. I think definitely nowhere near a combat zone. I think you've got to be very, very careful not to make it into a Russo-NATO war.

"But I do think it is worth exploring what in the sort of deeper - in the depth of Ukraine - the donor community could do."

Since the onset of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine in February 2022, the UK has supplied Kiev with various weapons, including the NLAW anti-tank missile launcher and Brimstone 2 missiles.

Britain also became the first Western country to provide Ukrainian forces with a long-range cruise missile named the Storm Shadow. The Storm Shadow is a turbojet-powered missile that cruises at Mach 0.8 to a max range of 560 kilometers.

Furthermore, over 20,000 recruits from the Ukrainian armed forces received training in the UK since the beginning of 2022 under the British-led Operation Interflex.


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