UK donates long-range cruise missiles to help defence of Ukraine

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said it was the actions of Russia alone that have led to the missiles being provided
Ben Wallace making a statement on Ukraine, to the House of Commons in London on May 11, 2023.Ben Wallace making a statement on Ukraine, to the House of Commons in London on May 11, 2023.
Ben Wallace making a statement on Ukraine, to the House of Commons in London on May 11, 2023.

Ukrainians will have the “best chance to defend themselves” after the UK’s donation of Storm Shadow cruise missiles, the Defence Secretary has said.

Ben Wallace confirmed that he and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had agreed to authorise the donation after continued Russian attacks on Ukraine.

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He told the House of Commons on Thursday: “Today I can confirm that the UK is donating Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine. Storm Shadow is a long-range, conventional-only, precision-strike capability. It complements the long-range systems already gifted, including Himars and Harpoon missiles, as well as Ukraine’s own Neptune cruise missile.”

He added: “The donation of these weapons systems gives Ukraine the best chance to defend themselves against Russia’s continued brutality, especially the deliberate targeting of Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, which is against international law. Ukraine has a right to be able to defend itself against this.”

Manufacturer MBDA says the Storm Shadow missile has a range in excess 150 miles.

Mr Wallace would not go into detail on the number of missiles that would be provided, but said it was “currently enough to satisfy the Ukrainian demand for that capability”.

He also said the United States “have been incredibly supporting of the United Kingdom’s decision to do so”.

The commitment comes as Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said his country’s military needs more time to prepare a counter-offensive aimed at pushing back Russian occupying forces.

Mr Zelensky said in an interview broadcast by the BBC that it would be “unacceptable” to launch the assault now because too many lives would be lost.

“With [what we have] we can go forward and be successful,” Mr Zelensky said. “But we’d lose a lot of people. I think that’s unacceptable.”

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On the missile commitment, Mr Wallace insisted it was the actions of Russia alone that “have led to such systems being provided to Ukraine” and stressed “this is a calibrated and proportionate response to Russia’s escalations”. He noted MPs should recognise that Storm Shadow missiles “are not even in the same league” as some of the long-range weapons Russia has used.

As he concluded his speech, the defence secretary added: “Try as they might, the Kremlin cannot hide the fact that their invasion is already failing. They can only occupy the rubble left by their destruction.”

Labour welcomed the announcement, with shadow defence secretary John Healey saying Storm Shadow would “strengthen Ukraine’s fight to repel the Russian forces”.

He said: “We are united in our determination to help in the defence of Ukraine and of our shared values … we welcome this vital new military support as the Ukrainians prepare for their expected counter-offensive.”

Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman Alicia Kearns said she supported the Government’s decision, but urged Mr Wallace to lobby the Chancellor to establish an “economic Ramstein of G7 Treasury ministers or allied nations” to increase the financial pressure on Russia.

Mr Wallace said: “I think it’s a good idea and I’ll definitely pass that on to the Chancellor.”

While a counterpunch is possible as the weather in Ukraine improves, there has been no word on when it might happen.

A claim by the Ukrainian military on Wednesday that it had advanced up to 1.2 miles around the hotly contested eastern city of Bakhmut brought speculation that the counter-offensive was already under way.



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