At a time of high tension with Russia, Ukraine will receive weapons and military cooperation from the UK.
A day after Russia and Belarus announced that they would hold joint military exercises near the Ukrainian border, the UK revealed that it will send weapons to the country and offer military cooperation to improve its “defensive capability”.
The news was released by UK Defense Minister Ben Wallace, who explained that the British parliament has reached an agreement to supply Ukraine with weapons, adding that this “package” includes “anti-tank light weapons systems”. Wallace stressed that all equipment is “short-range” and has a “clearly defensive” utility, so it does not constitute a “threat to Russia”.
The cooperation between the two countries is nothing new: last year, the United Kingdom and Ukraine agreed on a plan that included training programs and the construction of several armed ships, and it is announced at a time when Ukraine is in a situation of high tension with Russia, having denounced the intention of its powerful neighbor to invade its borders, similar to what happened in 2014, with the occupation of the Crimean peninsula.
Ben Wallace also said that he had invited his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, to visit London in the coming weeks and expressed his desire to use bilateral contacts to advance a “constructive and good-faith” dialogue on the tensions on Ukraine’s border, where Moscow has gathered tens of thousands of troops, while stressing that the British position on the conflict “is very clear”.
“Any destabilizing action by Russia in Ukraine would be a strategic mistake and have significant consequences,” said the British minister, warning that “there is an international sanctions package prepared to ensure that the Russian government receives a punishment for stepping over the line.” .
Military exercises This Monday, Belarus and Russia announced that they will hold joint military exercises near the border with Ukraine over the next two months. Experts believe that in the event of a Russian attack, Moscow will use Belarusian territory to invade the country.
“We agreed with President Putin that in the near future we should carry out exercises together on the southern border, on the Belarusian-Ukrainian border,” said Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, explaining that the exercises should take place “in two phases along the next two months”, starting in winter.
Ukraine, in turn, recently sent 8,500 elements of the security forces to the Belarusian border to avoid a situation similar to that which occurred on the Belarusian border with Poland, where around 2,000 migrants were concentrated to try to enter the European Union.
Military analysts, quoted by the Guardian, have suggested that Russia could send its military troops through Belarus in the event of a widespread invasion, effectively extending Ukraine’s defenses, “taking advantage of the two countries’ nearly 700-mile border.”
Others disagree, arguing that Belarus will not play a serious role in the event that Russia launches an attack on Ukraine.
Russia denies any intentions of aggression, but last week, hackers attacked several Ukrainian government websites posting threatening messages. Although the authors did not identify themselves, observers pointed to Russia as a possible origin of this virtual offensive.
Source: with agencies