British hospital to treat Ukrainian troops

Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where five wounded Ukrainian servicemen will be treated (AFP Photo/Will Oliver)

London (AFP) - Five Ukrainian servicemen seriously wounded in fighting with pro-Russian separatists will be treated in a British hospital, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond announced Sunday.

One of the group has already arrived at the hospital in Birmingham, central England, while another is expected to be brought to Britain next month.

British doctors will also travel to Kiev in January to identify up to three more troops for treatment.

The eight-month conflict between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine has left at least 4,634 dead and 10,243 wounded, according to the United Nations.

"The UK stands squarely behind the Ukrainian people and government as they defend their nation’s independence," Hammond said in a foreign office statement.

"The surgical unit at Queen Elizabeth Hospital has extensive experience and skill in treating battlefield injuries and I am pleased that we can use that expertise to rebuild the lives of those who have been severely wounded in the conflict in eastern Ukraine."

The hospital in England's second city has also treated British servicemen injured in Afghanistan.

Britain sent non-lethal aid to Ukraine in October including body armour and medical kits.

It accuses Russia of trying to destabilise Ukraine by sending in its own troops, a charge denied by Moscow.