A former Russian president has warned the presence of British soldiers training Ukrainian troops in Ukraine would bring World War III closer.
Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council and the country’s president between 2008 and 2012, made the comments in a post on Telegram.
These came in response to a suggestion made by UK Defence Minister Grant Shapps that Westminster may at some point in the future deploy military instructors to Ukraine in support of Ukrainian forces.
This in addition to the training already being provided to Ukrainian armed forces in Britain and other Western countries.
Mdevedev, whose anti-western stance and rhetoric is perhaps staunchest among key Putin allies, hit back and said any presence of UK troops on Ukrainian soil would ‘turn their instructors into a legal target for our armed forces… understanding perfectly well that they will be ruthlessly destroyed’.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appeared to row back on the comments made by Mr Shapps, who was only appointed to his post a month ago.
Speaking at the start of the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester this afternoon, Mr Sunak told reporters: ‘What the defence secretary was saying was that it might well be possible one day in the future for us to do some of that training in Ukraine.
‘But that’s something for the long term, not the here and now.’
He further clarified ‘there are no British soldiers that will be sent to fight in the current conflict’.
Following a visit to a military base on Salisbury Plain and a subsequent call with President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday, Mr Shapps had further called on British defence firms to step up production.
He also suggested the UK was intent on helping Ukraine obtain Nato membership.
Mr Shapps added: ‘I was talking 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, and not just training. We’re seeing BAE, for example, move into manufacturing in country.
I’m keen to see other British companies do their bit as well by doing the same thing.’
In his post on Telegram, Mdevedev added German factories producing Taurus missiles could also prove a target should these munitions find their way to Kyiv.
He wrote: ‘They say this is in accordance with international law. Well, in that case, strikes on German factories where these missiles are made would also be in full compliance with international law.
‘These morons are actively pushing us towards World War III.’
The former president’s comments echo similar warnings he’s made in the past.
Earlier in July, he suggested actions by ‘completely crazy’ western nations meant a global-scale conflict was ‘getting closer’.
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