Former British Energy Secretary Grant Shapps, now defense secretary, outside 10 Downing StreetInternationalIndiaAfricaJames TweedieThe UK and other NATO members have already put tens of thousands of conscripted Ukrainian troops through crash-courses of a few weeks — as well as supplying huge quantities of arms. But they insist they are not in direct conflict with Russia.The UK’s newly-appointed defense secretary was “mad” to suggest sending troops and ships to Ukraine, a military expert has said.British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps told a newspaper over the weekend that UK soldiers could be sent to Ukraine to train conscripts to Volodymyr Zelenksy’s depleted army.The defense secretary even hinted that Royal Navy ships could be sent to the Black Sea to escort Ukrainian merchant vessels following the breakdown of the grain export deal with Russia — in spite of Turkiye’s ban on military vessels of any other nation transiting the Bosphorpus straits to enter the land-bound sea.Prime Minister Rishi Sunak quickly slapped down Shapps in a TV interview on Sunday on the eve of his Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester, saying: “There are no British soldiers that will be sent to fight in the current conflict.”Since 2022, the British Army has put tens of thousands of Ukrainian recruits through three-week crash courses on training grounds in the UK before they are sent to the frontlines.Similarly, documents leaked from the US Department of Defense in April this year estimated that there were up to 50 SAS special forces operating covertly in Ukraine, but did not indicate what their mission might be.Former British MP Matthew Gordon-Banks, a senior research fellow at the Armed Forces Defense Academy in Oxfordshire and Conservative partymate of Shapps, said Shapps’ comments to the media were a “complete PR disaster.”
"Shapps gave an interview, possibly over-stating his intentions as a new defense secretary ahead of a speech to the Conservative Party conference. The Telegraph wrote it up as a certainty," Gordon-Banks told Sputnik. "I suspect it horrified the prime minister, security and intelligence sources and the wider government."
The military expert said Shapps’ suggestion of sending British troops into the warzone was simply unthinkable.”His idea was absolutely mad. Only this week, Russian leaders like [State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav] Volodin, [Foreign Minister Sergey] Lavrov and [Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry] Medvedev have made it clear about how the conflict in Ukraine will end and what they would see as unnecessary escalation by NATO,” Gordon-Banks said.He noted that the article had quickly been taken down from the newspaper’s website — possibly at the insistence of the intelligence services.”Such a deployment would be catastrophic in both diplomatic and military terms,” Gordon-Banks warned.MilitaryFormer UK Defense Chief Suggests Ukraine Mobilize Younger Recruits06:06 GMTIn an article in the same newspaper on Sunday, Shapps’ predecessor at the Ministry of Defense Ben Wallace claimed Ukraine was winning its summer offensive — already written off by some US generals and even British state broadcaster the BBC — despite only capturing a handful of villages after four months of fighting.He also urged Kiev to begin conscripting teenage boys into its army in an attempt to stop Russia from bringing overwhelming force to bear “The average age of the soldiers at the front is over 40,” Wallace wrote. “I understand President Zelensky’s desire to preserve the young for the future, but the fact is that Russia is mobilizing the whole country by stealth,” he claimed.The defense analyst said Kiev was already press-ganging youths to make up for the terrible casualties its army has suffered over the past year and a half. “Ukraine has already lost three armies,” Gordon-Banks stressed. “They are now pulling 16- to 18-year-olds off the streets. 500,000 Ukrainians have already died fighting a senseless, unnecessary war and it is time for the West to move more quickly to end this conflict.”