YAVORIV, Ukraine, Jan 28 (Reuters) – Ukrainian troops in furry black-and-white winter camouflage trained on Friday firing anti-tank launchers delivered by Britain as part of Western efforts to help Ukraine defend itself from any Russian invasion.
Russia has forced the West into talks on Moscow’s demands for new security guarantees in Europe by amassing more than 100,000 troops near its borders with Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that wants to join NATO.
Britain said earlier this month that it would supply Ukraine with light anti-armour defensive weapon systems and personnel to provide training. They are not strategic and are intended to be used in self-defence, it said.
“It is enough to shoot one round to completely destroy the enemy vehicle,” serviceman Zinovy Luzhansky said during the exercises at windy military training grounds in western Ukraine.
“It will be much easier to fight against the Russian Federation because this weapon can easily destroy any kind of enemy armoured military equipment.”
As Britain and the United States have stepped up arms deliveries to Ukraine this month, they have also upset Kyiv by recalling their diplomats.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Friday did not rule out a full-blown war with Russia but accused Washington and the media of fuelling panic that weighed on the economy while there were “no tanks in the streets”.
He spoke after Russian President Vladimir Putin said the United States and NATO had not addressed the Kremlin’s main security demands in the East-West standoff over Ukraine, but that Moscow was ready to keep talking.
Russia annexed Crimea from Kyiv in 2014 and went on to back rebels fighting government troops in eastern Ukraine, an unresolved conflict that has killed 15,000 people to date.