In December, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace wrote to the Russian government, warning the UK might send more advanced weapons to Ukraine if attacks on civilian infrastructure continued.
Yesterday, after countless missile strikes on Ukrainian cities, Wallace announced just such a move. With a range of about 155 miles, the Storm Shadow cruise missile is precisely the kind of long-range weapon Ukraine has been seeking. “None of this would have been necessary had Russia not invaded,” he lamented. As happened after the UK agreed to send Challenger 2 tanks, it could prompt other countries to follow suit.
However, a few hours earlier, Donald Trump, the frontrunner to become the Republican candidate for US president, signalled he might cut American aid if elected, complaining: “We’re giving away so much equipment, we don’t have ammunition for ourselves right now.” He also refused to pick a side, as he did over a white supremacist rally held in Charlottesville in 2017, when anti-Semitic and Nazi-associated phrases were chanted and a counter-protester, Heather Heyer, 32, was murdered.
Fortunately, there are some Republicans who see the dangers of Trump’s failure to back Ukraine. Mark Esper, defence secretary under Trump, told CNN it was “the wrong message to send”. “It’s not just about Russia invading Ukraine,” he said. “It’s about the possibility that China could invade Taiwan... Will America support democracies, like Ukraine and Taiwan, and defend them like we’ve done in the past for decades?”
The UK and other nations may need to prepare to significantly increase their support for Volodymyr Zelensky’s government; relying on a Trump-led US to stand up to a warmongering, fascist dictator would be a mistake.