Flag of Russia and Ukraine in Berlin 180415 CREDIT ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
Flags of Russia and Ukraine in Berlin (Picture: Alamy).

Reports UK 'highly unlikely' to send troops if Russia invades Ukraine

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has been quoted in media outlets amid Russian military build-up close to Ukraine and fresh fears of an...

Flag of Russia and Ukraine in Berlin 180415 CREDIT ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
Flags of Russia and Ukraine in Berlin (Picture: Alamy).

It is "highly unlikely" Britain or its allies will send troops to defend Ukraine if it is invaded by neighbouring Russia, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has reportedly said.

There are reports tens of thousands of Russian troops have been stationed near the border with Ukraine, and fears of a possible invasion are growing.

Mr Wallace and Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Yuriyovych Reznikov issued a joint statement on 16 November, which said they were "concerned" by Russia's military build-up.

"The United Kingdom stands shoulder to shoulder with the people of Ukraine and will continue its long-standing determination to support them," the statement added.

But in an interview with The Spectator, Mr Wallace said Ukraine "is not a member of NATO so it is highly unlikely that anyone is going to send troops into Ukraine to challenge Russia".

"We shouldn't kid people we would. The Ukrainians are aware of that," he added, in comments carried by The Times ahead of the interview's publication.

Russian President Vladimir Putin makes remarks at opening of Army 2021 International Military and Technical Forum 230821 CREDIT RAMIL SITDIKOV, RUSSIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS AND INFORMATION OFFICE, TASS, ALAMY LIVE NEWS
Russian President Vladimir Putin was warned by Boris Johnson earlier this week not to invade Ukraine (Picture: Alamy).

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been high since 2014, when Russian forces annexed the Crimean peninsula and backed a separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine.

Asked if that meant Ukraine was on its own, Mr Wallace said: "We can all help with capacity building but to some extent Ukraine is not in Nato and that is why we are doing the best diplomatically to say to Putin don't do this."

For Ukraine to join NATO, it must continue with Euro-Atlantic reforms, but the country has still not been issued with a Membership Action Plan (MAP) – a programme of support designed to the needs of a particular country wishing to join NATO.

Countries taking part in the submission of the MAP must hand in individual annual national programmes on how they are preparing for future membership – covering political, economic, defence, resource, security and legal aspects.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Russian leader Vladimir Putin there will be "significant consequences" for Russia if it invades Ukraine.

Mr Johnson spoke by telephone to Mr Putin on Monday to reassert the UK’s commitment to Ukraine's territorial integrity and warn that any destabilising action by Moscow would be a "strategic mistake".

The Kremlin has denied preparing an invasion and has accused the government in Kiev of stoking tensions in the region by deploying new weapons.