The United Kingdom will ramp up its military assistance to Ukraine, deploying additional troops and a Royal Navy ship to defend 'freedom and democracy,' Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson will announce on Wednesday, The Telegraph wrote.
Ukrainian Special Forces and Marines will be trained by British personnel and HMS Echo, a Royal Navy hydrographic survey ship with a company of 72, will deploy to the region.
“As long as Ukraine faces Russian hostilities, it will find a steadfast partner in the United Kingdom,” Williamson will say.
The announcement will follow through on promises Williamson made during his visit to Ukraine in September.
The training, delivered through Operation Orbital, has been expanded in 2018 to include anti-armour, infantry skills, counter-sniping, and mortar planning.
This is in addition to defence skills programmes such as the identification of mines and improvised explosive devices, medical care and logistics that UK personnel have been delivering since early 2015.
British personnel have trained more than 9,500 Ukrainian armed forces personnel since the start of Operation Orbital in 2015.
During a meeting in Kiev with his Ukrainian counterpart Stepan Poltorak in September, Williamson said that London planned to deploy a Royal Navy ship to Ukraine, commit further Royal Marines and introduce a permanent naval attaché to help build Ukraine’s naval capability.
Gavin Williamson also travelled to Marinka in eastern Ukraine to see the effects of the four-year conflict in the Donbass region.
The Defence Secretary later met with President Petro Poroshenko to discuss, among other things, the tense situation in the Sea of Azov and its negative impact on the Ukrainian economy.
Russia and Ukraine are in a row over the inland Sea of Azov that they share, with both sides accusing each other of detaining each other’s' ships illegally. However, no specific example of delaying or preventing access to a ship by Russia has been cited yet.
Tensions between Russia and Ukraine in the Sea of Azov heightened this year after Ukraine detained two Russian ships for port calls in Russia’s Crimea, which Ukraine considers to be its territory.
Russia described the move as ‘maritime terrorism’ and ramped up patrols off the country’s Azov coast, prompting Ukraine to accuse Russia of illegal searches.
The crisis escalated in October, when the Ukrainian parliament passed a draft law authorising Kiev to expand maritime controls by 12 nautical miles off its southern coast, allegedly in an effort to counter smuggling in the Black Sea.