The British defence secretary said ?light anti-armour? munitions were sent to Kiev amid rising tensions with Moscow
The United Kingdom has begun sending light arms to Ukraine, Britain's top military official said, though he claimed the weapons ?pose no threat to Russia? after repeated allegations that Moscow is planning to invade its neighbour.
"We have taken the decision to supply Ukraine with light anti-armour defensive weapon systems," Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told lawmakers on Monday, adding initial shipments had already arrived in the country hours prior.
While the official did not provide details about the number or type of arms sent, he said they are "not strategic weapons and pose no threat to Russia," and are to be used by Ukrainian forces "in self-defence" only. A "small number" of British troops will also train local soldiers on how to use the new gear.
"These are short-range... but nevertheless it would make people pause and think what they were doing and if tanks were to roll into Ukraine, invade it, then they would be part of the defence mechanism," Wallace continued.
The UK and US governments continue to predict an imminent invasion of Ukraine by Russia, despite the latter's insistence that it has no plans for an armed incursion. Nonetheless, over the weekend US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan claimed Moscow would "fabricate a pretext" to invade, threatening a "robust response" that would target Russia economically. A proposal to sever Moscow from a major international banking network, SWIFT, is also reportedly still on the table.
Sullivan's warning, as well as London's vow to arm up Ukrainian military, come days after several current and former US officials told Yahoo News that intelligence agencies are now "training an insurgency" in Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion, with one ex-CIA staffer saying the program is instructing troops on how to "kill Russians."
Despite the growing enmity, Wallace said he invited his Russian counterpart, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, to meet in London sometime in the coming weeks to work through the issue, adding "the current gap is wide but not unbridgeable," and that he remains "hopeful that diplomacy will prevail."