Britain is to sign a new defence pact with Ukraine pledging to help the country with more military training and intelligence amid its confrontation with Russia.
Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, said the new agreement was a signal Britain would “stand firm” with the beleaguered eastern European nation.
The 15-year-long agreement will see British troops take part in more joint exercises and carry out more training with Ukrainian forces who have been battling Russian-backed separatists for two years.
The countries will also cooperate on sharing military intelligence and expertise.
Mr Fallon said: “The UK will stand firm with Ukraine as they defend their territorial integrity. This new defence agreement sets out that commitment as we enhance our training of Ukrainian armed forces.”
The new agreement revives an earlier pact that lapsed in 2006 because of the anti-EU stance of the then pro-Russian Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, officials said. The overthrow of Yanukovych in 2014 was the trigger for Russia to annex Crimea and for pro-Russian separatists to rise up and seize large swathes of the Donbass region including Donetsk and Luhansk.
Moscow has denied NATO accusations that it has sent large numbers of undercover troops and sophisticated equipment to support the separatists.
A year-old ceasefire has failed to stop fighting in the region and over 9,200 soldiers and civilians have been killed since the conflict began in April 2014.
Small teams of British troops have already carried out training missions in the country, trying to teach life-saving battlefield medicine and basic infantry tactics.
However the Kiev government has repeatedly called for more help.
Source: The Telegraph