British special forces ready to deploy 600 troops to Ukraine amid Russia invasion fears
British task force of SAS and Paras set to mobilise to Ukraine as MI6 warns the prime minister that President Putin could be a threat to Ukraine and the west
A task force of up to 600 UK troops is ready to deploy in Ukraine amid fears Russia is poised to invade its neighbour.
Units from the SAS and Parachute Regiment have been warned they could be sent to the country within hours.
The preparation comes after defence chiefs and the head of MI6 advised No10 that Russian President Vladimir Putin represents a clear and present danger to Ukraine and the West.
Video footage that emerged appears to show Russian tanks, armoured vehicles and troops massing near Ukraine.
Now a British force – consisting of SAS members, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, medics, engineers, signallers and up to 400 paratroopers from 16 Air Assault Brigade based in Aldershot, Hants – is being set up.
Russian troops in Crimea ( Image: Sergei Malgavko/TASS)
A source said: “The high readiness element of the brigade was told it may need to deploy at very short notice.
“Between 400 and 600 troops are ready. Their equipment is packed and they are ready to fly to Ukraine and either land or parachute in. They have trained for both eventualities.”
Britain’s most senior military officer, General Sir Nick Carter, warned that there is a greater risk of accidental war erupting between the West and Russia than at any time since the Cold War.
General Carter, Chief of the Defence Staff, said: “We have to be careful that people don’t end up allowing the bellicose nature of some of our politics to finish in a position where escalation leads to miscalculation.”
President Putin is posturing on his borders ( Image: Mikhail Metzel/TASS)
Tensions have been rising in eastern Europe after the EU accused Belarus of flying in thousands of migrants to engineer a humanitarian crisis on its border with Poland, a dispute that threatens to draw in Russia and Nato.
Putin warned that unscheduled Nato drills in the Black Sea posed a serious challenge for Moscow and that Russia had nothing to do with the crisis on ally Belarus’ border with the bloc.
US officials have alerted European allies about a possible attack, which would be the culmination of a long-running Kremlin feud with Ukraine.
Russian officials insisted their troops were only sent to the border in response to the increased Nato border activity.
Senior British defence sources said hundreds of paras supported by artillery units could drop into the region within 36 hours of the green light.
Footage on social media appears to show huge amounts of Russian military gear near the city of Voronezh, 200 miles east of the Ukrainian border. https://get-latest.convrse.media/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.mirror.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fworld-news%2Fbritish-special-forces-ready-deploy-25453247&cre=bottom&cip=20&view=web
A large number of Russian tanks, howitzers and armoured vehicles were reported to have been moved there.
The Kremlin has said the West was “playing with fire” by deploying warships and spy planes in the Black Sea.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has reassured Ukraine of Washington’s “ironclad” commitment to its security.
The Ministry of Defence said: “The UK and our allies are unwavering in support for Ukraine’s sovereignty.”
On Friday, the RAF said its Typhoons escorted two Russian Tu160 Blackjack bombers away from a ‘UK area of interest’ over the North Sea.
(c) The Sunday Mirror