Rishi Sunak slaps down Grant Shapps over push to send British troops to Ukraine to train Kyiv’s forces after Kremlin warns they would be ‘legitimate targets’ for ‘destruction’

Rishi Sunak today slapped down Grant Shapps after he suggested British troops could be sent to train Kyiv’s forces in Ukraine.

The PM insisted the idea floated by the Defence Secretary was not something for the ‘here and now’.

The comments came after Russia warned that UK instructors sent to Ukraine would become ‘legitimate targets’ and face ‘destruction’.

Thousands of Kyiv’s military personnel have been trained in the UK, including on NATO tactics, tanks and Western fighter jets.

However, Mr Shapps suggested that could go further by saying he would like to see ‘training and production’ operations take place in the war-torn country.

Although there was no suggestion of British troops taking part in combat operations, such a move would constitute a major ramping up of support.

In a post on Telegram, Putin ally Dmitri Medvedev delivered a furious response, saying the move would ‘turn their instructors into a legal target for our armed forces’.¬†

He added: ‘Understanding perfectly well that they will be ruthlessly destroyed. And not as mercenaries, but namely as British NATO specialists.’¬†¬†

Kyiv’s soldiers and pilots have been in the UK for months for instruction that has included learning how to use tanks, artillery and other Western materiel support donated to the Zelensky government.

But the new Defence Secretary said he wants to move ‘training and production’ operations into the war-torn country itself, mainly in Western areas away from the frontline.¬†

While there is no suggestion of British troops taking part in combat operations, such a move would constitute a major ramping up of support.

So far, the UK and other NATO members have avoided deployments of troops to Ukraine in any official capacity to avoid being drawn into direct confrontations.

In March 2022 Vladimir Putin’s regime launched a cruise missile strike at a base near the Polish border housing foreign fighters, killing more than 35.

Mr Shapps also also told the Telegraph that he is encouraging British defence firms to set up factories in Ukraine, and is discussing ways the British Navy could help to defend commercial vessels in the Black Sea.

Mr Shapps¬†told the Telegraph: ‘I was talking today about eventually getting the training brought closer and actually into Ukraine as well.¬†

‘Particularly in the west of the country, I think the opportunity now is to bring more things in country – not just training, but also we’re seeing BAE [the UK defence firm], for example, move into manufacturing in country, for example.¬†

MoD hit by shortfall to ‘Dad’s Army’¬†

Britain is facing a huge deficit of part-time soldiers ‚Äď just when they are needed to plug gaps.

Ministers have pledged to train more ‘Dad’s Army’ volunteers to make up for having fewer regulars. But new figures show that rather than making progress towards a target of having more than 30,000 trained reservists by 2025, the MoD has lost more than 1,000 part-time squaddies in the last 12 months, leaving the total at just 24,490.

The Army said: ‘We remain ready to meet our commitments.’

‘I think there will be a move to get more training and production in the country.’¬†

Since the start of 2022, more than 20,000 recruits from the Ukrainian armed forces have received basic British Army training in the UK as part of the British-led Operation Interflex. 

Basic training involves surviving in a hostile environment; troops are taught skills like basic fieldcraft and medical care, as well as marksmanship and weapon handling.

The training has also been adapted to reflect what is needed on the ground – essentially trench warfare.

He also suggested the UK is preparing to utilise the Navy to help Ukraine better defend itself against attacks in the Black Sea, particularly amid Russian attacks on Ukrainian cargo ships.  

‘Britain is a naval nation so we can help and we can advise, particularly since the water is international water’, he said.¬†

Mr Shapps has held talks about the possibility of moving a British-led training programme into Ukraine instead of relying on bases within the UK and other those in other NATO countries

Putin ‘s close ally, Dmitry Medvedev, declared that Russia ‘s invasion will fight on

The Russian President marked ‘Reunification Day’ as he pledged that ‘nothing and no-one’ will stop him

‘It’s important that we don’t allow a situation to establish by default that somehow international shipping isn’t allowed in that water.’

It comes after a top ally of Russian President Vladmir Putin vowed that Russia will invade more of Ukraine as Moscow on Saturday celebrated the anniversary of its illegal annexation of four Ukrainian territories. 

Dmitry Medvedev¬†declared that victory will soon be Russia’s, as the nation continues its ‘special military operation’ to completely obliterate the¬†‘Nazi¬†Kyiv¬†regime’.

His harrowing statement came one year after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson annexed by Moscow following a series of controversial local elections. 

While the Kremlin claims these took place in ‘full accordance with international norms’, the referendums have been completely denounced by the West and were not internationally recognised.

‘The special military operation will continue until the Nazi Kyiv regime is completely destroyed and the original Russian territories are liberated from the enemy,’ Medvedev said.

‘Victory will be ours… And there will be more new regions within Russia.’

The Russian President also marked September 30 – now referred to as¬†‘Reunification Day’ – by pledging that ‘nothing and no-one’ will stop him in Moscow’s fight against Kyiv.

‘Nothing and no-one can break the will of millions of people, or their belief in truth and historical justice,’ Putin vowed.

‘The free and unequivocal choice of our brothers and sisters was wholeheartedly supported by the Russian people.

‘We understood and deeply felt the most important thing: by defending our compatriots in Donbas and Novorossiya, we are defending Russia itself.

‘Together, we are fighting for the Motherland, for our sovereignty, spiritual values, unity, and victory.¬†

‘I thank all the citizens of the country for this solidarity and patriotism.’

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