The UK has started supplying Ukraine with anti-tank weapons, and Canada has reportedly deployed a small contingent of special forces to Kiev due to fears of a possible Russian invasion.
The developments came as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov angrily dismissed US claims last week that Moscow was preparing a pretext to invade Ukraine if diplomacy failed to achieve its goals. .
While Moscow – which has deployed 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine – denies plans for an attack on Ukraine, it has said it may take unspecified military action unless the West accepts a list of demands, including a forever ban on joining NATO.
Russia sees NATO’s eastward expansion as an existential threat.
But Washington and its allies have firmly rejected Moscow’s demands, and Russian-US talks in Geneva and a related NATO-Russia meeting in Brussels ended last week without a breakthrough.
Kiev has since asked Western countries for weapons to help protect itself.
Speaking in Britain’s Parliament on Monday, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the UK had “taken the decision to supply Ukraine with anti-armour light defensive weapons systems”.
The first weapons were delivered on Monday and a small number of British servicemen will provide training for a short time, he said, without specifying the number and type of weapons being sent.
But he added: “These are not strategic weapons and pose no threat to Russia. They should be used in self-defense.
“These are short range…. but nevertheless, it would make people think about what they were doing and if tanks entered Ukraine, invaded it, then they would be part of the defense mechanism.
In a separate space article released on Monday, Wallace also addressed Russian allegations of threats from NATO, saying the Western security alliance is “fundamentally defensive.”
“The former Soviet states were not expanded ‘en’ by NATO, but joined at their own request,” he wrote. “The Kremlin tries to portray NATO as a Western plot to encroach on its territory, but in reality, the growth in Alliance membership is the natural response of these states to its own malign activities and threats.”
In Kyiv, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov hailed the UK’s support, saying in a Twitter post that his country “greatly appreciates Britain’s decision to provide a new security package with light defensive, anti-armour weapon systems!
Ukrainian officials have warned that Russia could launch an attack on their country from various directions, including from the territory of its Belarusian ally. Russian and Belarusian troops plan to hold large-scale military exercises next month, including near the Belarus-Ukraine border.
Belarusian Security Council Secretary Alexander Volfovich said on Monday that Russian troops had started arriving in the country for the exercise, according to the BELTA news agency.
In addition to denying that it intends to attack its neighbour, Russia has instead accused Ukrainian leaders of planning the use of force to regain control of territories held by Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine. ‘Ukraine. The Ukrainian authorities have denied this allegation.
Separately, in Canada, Global News reported that Ottawa had sent special forces operators to Ukraine.
Citing unspecified sources, the broadcaster said the unit will identify ways to assist the Ukrainian government and help develop evacuation plans for Canadian diplomatic personnel in the event of a full-scale invasion.
A spokesperson for the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command said it could not confirm the report, but said it was supporting Ukrainian security forces on a periodic basis to provide training and “expertise of instructor and leadership” since 2020.
The report came as Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly met Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal in Kyiv on Monday during a visit to discuss efforts to deter “aggressive actions” from Russia.
Russia took control of Crimea in 2014.