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12th Feb 2022

All UK troops to withdraw from Ukraine this weekend

Charlie Herbert

UK troops to leave Ukraine this weekend

Russia could invade ‘at very little notice’

A defence minister has confirmed that all of the UK’s troops will be withdrawn from Ukraine this weekend, as fears grow over an impending Russia invasion of the country.

As part of Operation Orbital, a small number of British personnel have been placed in Ukraine over the last 10 years. In recent years, more have been deployed to the eastern European country to help train the Ukrainian military on anti-tank missiles provided by the UK to help deter Russian aggression.

But they will now be returning home.

The move comes as the government has advised that all British nationals leave Ukraine as soon as possible.

Around 130,000 Russian troops have gathered on the Ukrainian border, with the US warning that an invasion is “imminent,” the Independent reports.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, UK defence minister James Heappey confirmed that British troops would be leaving Ukraine this weekend.

“All of them will be withdrawn,” he told the programme. “There will be no British troops in Ukraine if there is to be a conflict there.”

“They will be leaving over the course of the weekend.”

This news comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson had doubled the number of British troops in the region, with Dominic Raab had saying last month that the UK would stand “shoulder to shoulder” with Ukraine.

Heappey added that it was essential British nationals leave the country at the earliest possible opportunity as war could come without warning.

He told Sky News: “Let’s be clear there are now over 130,000 troops on the border of Ukraine, more on amphibious shipping in the Black Sea. There are missile systems, artillery and combat air all in place that would mean Russia could mount an invasion with very little notice indeed.

“Our duty as government is to hope for the best but plan for the worst and that means British nationals should leave immediately by any means possible, and they should not expect as they saw in the summer with Afghanistan that there would be any possibility of a military evacuation.

“They should leave now.”

The Taliban did not have this capability, making an aerial evacuation much easier.

But the UK ambassador to the US Kim Darroch has warned that the embassy in Kyiv will be “overwhelmed” as Brits flee the country.

“It will overwhelm the embassy’s resources,” Lord Darroch told Today. “You can’t assume all the Brits in the country will hear this so you have to contact them.

“You may have to arrange an emergency telephone line, you’ll need to send people to the airport where – with lots of foreign nationals trying to get out – there will be chaos. There may need to be extra flights laid on.

“This will occupy everyone’s time for 24 hours a day for the next few days and you won’t get everyone out – some people will choose to stay.”

Related links:

Vladimir Putin warns Europe will be dragged into military conflict if Ukraine joins NATO

Vladimir Putin pretends to be asleep during Ukraine’s opening ceremony welcome