British soldiers on a training mission in Ukraine are to leave the country this weekend amid reports of a possible imminent invasion by Russia.
Armed Forces Minister James Heappey warned that Moscow was in a position to attack “very, very quickly.”
“There will be no British troops in Ukraine if there is to be a conflict there. “They will be leaving over the course of the weekend,” Heappey told the BBC.
“We are now confident that the artillery systems, the missile systems, and the combat air are all in place that would allow Russia to launch – at no notice – an attack on Ukraine,” he added.
Units of British soldiers dispatched to Kyiv as part of Operation Orbital to train Ukrainian troops how to use anti-tank missiles will be withdrawn throughout the weekend. A further 100 troops will also be called back, he said.
The withdrawal confirms previous government statements that the UK military would not directly fight a Russian offensive but has signaled support for an insurgency in any such event.
The withdrawal of troops was announced a day after the Foreign Office instructed all British citizens to leave the Eastern European country amid fears that Russia could launch an invasion at any moment.
Western nations have also called on their citizens to leave Ukraine while commercial means are still available to them.
On Friday US intelligence reported that Moscow was aiming for a lightning military offensive that would see the Ukrainian military defeated and the encirclement of its capital in a number of days.