Nato troops must not enter Ukraine, UK minister warns

By Hamed Chapman

London, (The Muslim News): The British Government will “explore all that we can do to support the Ukrainians themselves over the next few days”, Armed Forces Minister, James Heappey, told MPs Friday.

“But we must all in this house be clear that British and Nato troops should not, must not, play an active role in Ukraine,” Heappy said, answering an urgent question on the military situation in the former Soviet Republic.

“We must all be clear what the risk of miscalculation could be and how existential that could very quickly become if people miscalculate and things escalate unnecessarily,” he warned.

“We’ve taken peace and security in Europe for granted since the end of the Cold War. We can no longer do that. I fear that we will be dealing with the consequences of this Russian invasion now for years to come.”

Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine has dominated all political discussion in Britain since it was launched early Thursday after weeks of a build-up with Labour competing with the Tories in calling for tough measures to impose against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Government.

Conservative MP Peter Bone asked the junior Defence Minister whether the UK and Western allies will institute a no-fly zone on Ukraine, while Shadow Defence Secretary, John Healey, has pressed the Government if the country will provide Ukraine with short-range handheld anti-tank missiles.

Heappey said a no-fly zone was “somewhat difficult to implement in a hostile airspace against a peer adversary”, warning the possibility that Nato jets would most certainly probably, come into a combat situation with Russian jets and triggering the collective Article 5 defence “could not be understated in those circumstances.”

At his daily briefing, a spokesman for Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, insisted “nothing is off the table” in support of Ukraine but said he could not go into detail over the support being provided though mentioning the UK had “talked about protective equipment, helmets, body armour, as well as some of the defensive lethal aid.”

In Parliament, Heappey further cautioned that it was “just not something that could realistically be done” when asked if the 1,000 UK troops on stand-by to support Ukraine’s neighbours with refugee responses would go into the country as they did into Afghanistan to facilitate the egress of those fleeing.

“This is a highly kinetic combat situation and the probability of Nato troops being caught up in combat with Russian armed forces is far too high and would lead to huge escalation,” he told MPs.

The main focus of the Western alliance has been to focus upon imposing sanctions and exert diplomatic pressure on Putin even by trying to isolate Russia by challenging its right to a permanent seat of the UN Security Council on the grounds that Russia took the seat from the defunct Soviet Union in 1991 without proper authorisation.

Meanwhile, Labour Leader, Keir Starmer, was facing his own problem with peace campaigners within his party by threatening to cut funds to Young Labour and reportedly cancelling its annual conference after declaring its support for Stop The War “and other pro-peace activists”.

Om Thursday a group of 11 left-wing Labour MPs were forced to remove their names from a statement about the invasion of Ukraine, which heavily criticises the role of Nato, after being warned they risked losing the party whip.

[Photo: James Heappey MP. Photo by Richard Townshend/Creative Commons]

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