British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and his Ukraine counterpart, Gen Stepan Poltorak, met in London on 21 November and reaffirmed their mutual commitment to the continuing bilateral defence partnership.
They confirmed that, in January and February next year, training teams – made up of personnel from the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and the British army – will deploy to Ukraine as part of the extension to the UK’s military training operation, delivered through Operation Orbital, till 2020, as announced by the Minister on his visit to the country in September. Since the start of 2015, British personnel have trained over 9,500 members of the Ukrainian armed forces.
“As long as Ukraine faces Russian hostilities, it will find a steadfast partner in the United Kingdom. By continuing to work together, whether through training programmes or military exercises, we help Ukraine to stand up for our shared values […] Those values of freedom and democracy cannot be traded. I have witnessed on the frontline the effects of the conflict in the East and this has completely reinforced my support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity,” stated Mr Williamson.
“The United Kingdom is a valued partner that has supported Ukraine’s armed forces for the last four years in the face of Russian aggression. As we fight to defend our territory, the offer of extended support from the UK armed forces is vitally important and gratefully received,” Gen Poltorak added.
The Defence Secretary announced at the meeting that the hydrographic survey vessel HMS ECHO will deploy to the Black Sea in 2019 to demonstrate the UK’s support to ensuring freedom of navigation in the region.