In a major show of force aimed directly at Russian President Vladimir Putin, some 250 British paratroopers from the Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade decided to drop into the Ukraine for a friendly visit.
In other words, in your face, Vlad … and no, we’ll pass on the tea, heard it’s quite nasty.
After the successful drop into the Ternivsky training area, the paratroopers teamed up with thousands of Ukrainian troops, the UK’s Daily Mail reported.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the exercise built on the strong relationship developed between the two nations’ armed forces, which provides both countries with “vital experience of deploying rapidly from air to land to counter threats.”
Tensions continue between Russia and Ukraine following the annexation of Crimea in 2014. The conflict has killed more than 14,000 people.
Armed forces minister James Heappey said: “Our participation is an important affirmation of our commitment to our defence relationship with Ukraine, our partners in the Black Sea, and our ability to project highly capable troops forward anywhere, and any time, they’re needed.”
Captain Harjot Singh Gill, of 16 Air Assault Brigade, said: “We all bring something to this exercise — the Ukrainians bring their resolve and courage and we bring our constantly changing tactics and processes.”
The operation, which was launched a year after the Russian annexation of Crimea, is a demonstration of the UK’s “unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty,” the MoD said.
The drop is the biggest mass UK exercise in more than 20 years, and comes after President Putin stepped up military operations against Russia’s neighbour, The Mirror reported.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict, now in its sixth year, has worsened in recent months.
Moscow-backed separatists have launched large-scale attacks across East Ukraine as part of Putin’s bid to regain Soviet-era territories for his Russian Federation, The Mirror reported.
Ukraine’s airborne forces commander Lt.-Gen. Ievhen Moysiuk praised Britain for standing shoulder to shoulder with his country in the face of the growing aggression.
“This exercise cements our links to our British friends and reassures the local population,” he said. “Russian activity is on the increase along the border and the message from us is certainly that Ukraine will defend itself against any threat.
“I am very grateful to our British airborne comrades for joining this exercise.”
The most senior British officer on the ground added: “We are willing and ready to deploy.
“What we are saying by being here is that we are standing by our allies and partners and the sovereignty and security of the Black Sea region.”
The parachute practice forms part of Exercise Joint Endeavour, the first multinational exercise in Ukraine since the country achieved NATO-enhanced opportunity partner status in June, The Daily Mail reported.
Troops parachuted into the country from 600 ft from C-130 Hercules transport aircraft which had flown directly from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
And I was just kidding, about the tea …