Russia could target any British soldiers training troops in Ukraine – Medvedev

MOSCOW (Reuters) -Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Sunday any British soldiers training Ukrainian troops in Ukraine would be legitimate targets for Russian forces, as would German factories producing Taurus missiles should they supply Kyiv.

Medvedev, who is deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council and has become an increasingly hawkish and anti-Western figure in Russian politics, said such activities by the West were bringing World War Three closer.

In a post on Telegram, Medvedev first directed his ire towards recently appointed British Defence Minister Grant Shapps, who said in a newspaper interview that London wants to deploy military instructors to Ukraine, in addition to training Ukrainian armed forces in Britain or other Western countries as at present.

“(This will) turn their instructors into a legal target for our armed forces … understanding perfectly well that they will be ruthlessly destroyed. And not as mercenaries, but namely as British NATO specialists,” Medvedev wrote on Telegram.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak rowed back from Shapps’ comments on Sunday, saying there were no immediate plans to deploy military instructors to Ukraine.

“What the defence secretary was saying was that it might well be possible one day in the future for us to do some of that training in Ukraine,” Sunak told reporters at the start of the governing Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester.

“But that’s something for the long term, not the here and now. There are no British soldiers that will be sent to fight in the current conflict.”

Medvedev also vilified those in Germany who want Berlin to supply Ukraine with Taurus cruise missiles that could strike Russian territory and try to limit Moscow’s supply to its army.

“They say this is in accordance with international law. Well, in that case, strikes on German factories where these missiles are made would also be in full compliance with international law,” Medvedev said.

“These morons are actively pushing us towards World War Three,” he added, repeating similar warnings he has made before. In July he said actions by the “completely crazy” West meant World War Three “is getting closer.”

(Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and David Holmes)