UK to boost Ukraine defences with weaponry amid growing Russian invasion fears

Britain will equip Ukraine with weapons and training to help defend themselves against a Russian invasion.

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has ruled out sending troops to the conflict but is backing Ukraine with "light armour defensive" weapons.

Mr Wallace told the House of Commons that a "small number" of UK personnel will travel to Ukraine to provide training, as Russia appears "increasingly threatening".

However he did insist that the weapons being supplied "pose no threat to Russia" because they are "short-range" and only for "self-defence".

"I have to be honest here, Russia has the biggest armed forces in Europe," Mr Wallace said.

He continued: "Ukraine is not a member of NATO and I think it would be false hope to say that the British armed forces would be going unilaterally to Ukraine to join forces alongside Ukrainians in that environment, which is why we are putting all the effort in helping Ukraine help themselves, sanctions packages and diplomatic efforts."

Mr Wallace warned the commons that action was necessary as Russia stations tens of thousands of troops close to its border with Ukraine amid fears of an invasion.

Given the presence of tanks, rocket artillery and various other heavy machinery, he told MPs there is "real cause of concern", Sky News reports.

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Mr Wallace has invited his Russian counterpart, Sergey Shoygu, to visit London to talk about the situation "in the next few weeks".

Operation Orbital was set up in 2015 as the UK's training mission to Ukraine following Russia’s illegal annexation of the Crimea.

Mr Wallace told the Commons: "In light of the increasingly threatening behaviour from Russia and in addition to our current support, the UK is providing a new security assistance package to increase Ukraine's defensive capabilities.

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"We have taken the decision to supply Ukraine with light anti-armour defensive weapons systems.

"A small number of UK personnel will provide early-stage training for a short period of time, within the framework of Operation Orbital, before returning to the United Kingdom.

"This security assistance package complements the training capabilities Ukraine already has and those that are also being provided by the UK and other allies in Europe and the United States.”

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Since 2014, an estimated 15,000 people have been killed in clashes in the region, including in the Donbas, the Mirror reports.

Western intelligence services estimate up to 100,000 Russian soldiers are massed on the frontier.

Negotiations to ease tensions have so far failed.

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