LONDON - Britain's government wants to deploy military instructors to Ukraine, in addition to training Ukrainian armed forces in Britain or other Western countries as at present, British defence minister Grant Shapps said in a newspaper interview.
To date, Britain and its allies have avoided a formal military presence in Ukraine to reduce the risk of a direct conflict with Russia.
Britain has provided five-week military training courses to around 20,000 Ukrainians over the past year, and intends to train a similar number going forward.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, Shapps said there was scope to offer military training within Ukraine after a discussion on Friday with British military chiefs.
"I was talking today about eventually getting the training brought closer and actually into Ukraine as well," he was quoted as saying. "Particularly in the west of the country, I think the opportunity now is to bring more things 'in country'," he added.
Shapps added that he hoped British defence companies such as BAE Systems would proceed with plans to set up arms factories in Ukraine.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday he wants to turn his country's defence industry into a "large military hub" by partnering with Western weapons manufacturers to increase arms supplies for Kyiv's counteroffensive against Russia.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made Shapps defence minister on Sept. 1, after the resignation of his predecessor Ben Wallace.
(Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by Daniel Wallis)