Prime Minister Sunak announced in February that Great Britain would be the first country to equip Ukraine with longer-range missiles. Now it is clear which weapon systems are involved.
As previously announced, Britain is supplying Ukraine with Storm Shadow cruise missiles. “The endowment of these weapon systems offers Ukraine the best opportunity to defend itself against Russia’s ongoing brutality, particularly against targeted attacks on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, which violate international law,” British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told Parliament. The missiles are being sent to Ukraine or are already in Ukrainian hands.
The Storm Shadow would complement existing missile systems, including the US Himars multiple rocket launcher, British Harpoon missiles and Ukrainian Neptune cruise missiles, Wallace said. He stressed that Russia’s attack alone led to such weapons being shipped to Ukraine. It is a “balanced and proportionate response to the Russian escalation.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov assessed the announced delivery to the war opponent as “extremely negative”. “This also requires an adequate response from our military, who will certainly find appropriate solutions from a military point of view,” Peskov was quoted as saying by the Ria Novosti agency.
Missiles can reach Crimea
The airborne Storm Shadow, which was jointly developed by Great Britain and France, has a range of more than 250 kilometers, according to manufacturer MBDA. This will allow them to reach destinations on the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine, which was annexed by Russia. The US-type Himars multiple rocket launchers, successfully used by Ukraine, can hit targets 80 kilometers away. British troops have used the Storm Shadow in Iraq and against the terrorist militia IS in Syria, among other places.
CNN quoted a senior US military man as saying that the weapon was a “game changer” in view of the planned major offensive in Ukraine. A Western government official told the broadcaster that Ukraine had assured Britain that it would only use the Storm Shadow within its own internationally recognized territory and not against targets in Russia.
A Downing Street spokesman said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced during a visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in February that the UK would be the first country to supply long-range arms and that has not changed. London was also the first western country to send modern Challenger-2 main battle tanks to Ukraine.
Moscow has repeatedly claimed that Ukraine used its self-developed Hrim 2 surface-to-surface missile against targets in Crimea. These missiles have a range of up to 500 kilometers.
Discussion about fighter jets continues
Defense Secretary Wallace also said Ukraine had turned down the offer of pilot training on British Eurofighter jets and demanded the delivery of F-16 aircraft. Great Britain does not have this itself. “But I would encourage everyone to give the Ukrainians F-16s.” Wallace also pointed out that captured Russian tanks should be overhauled and then used on the Ukrainian side.
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