Russia is “preparing for multiple further years of fighting” in Ukraine, says the Ministry of Defence (MoD) after a series of leaks of confidential papers from Moscow.
The warning was made in the MoD’s intelligence update and is based on leaked documents believed to be from Russia’s Finance Ministry which suggested its defence spending was due to be increased by more than two thirds to 10.8 trillion roubles.
The MoD briefing said that high level of spending could be supported through 2024 “but only at the expense of the wider economy”.
It went on: “Full details on Russian defence spending are always classified, but these figures suggests that Russia is preparing for multiple further years of fighting in Ukraine”.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 01 October 2023.
Find out more about Defence Intelligence's use of language: https://t.co/lVRP9twVxh
🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/W5mGtTkasa
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) October 1, 2023
Earlier the Prime Minister was forced to clarify comments by Defence Secretary Grant Shapps suggestion that British troops could train forces in Ukraine.
He ruled out UK forces going to Ukraine and said that recently appointed political head of the Ministry of Defence was discussing possible plans for the “long term”.
Mr Shapps had said in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph that “eventually” he would like to get Britain’s long-standing training of Volodymyr Zelensky’s troops “in country” rather than in the UK.
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said any British troops in Ukraine would be legitimate targets for the Kremlin’s forces.
But, on a visit to Burnley ahead of the Tory party conference in Manchester, Mr Sunak said he wants to be “absolutely clear” about the situation following “some misreporting”.
He said Britain has been training Ukrainian citizens and soldiers “for a long time” within the UK.
“And 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,” the Prime Minister said.
“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. That’s not what’s happening. What we are doing is training Ukrainians. We’re doing that here in the UK.”