HomeUKUK promises "hundreds" of long-range air defense missiles to Ukraine

UK promises “hundreds” of long-range air defense missiles to Ukraine

The UK will send “hundreds” of air defense missiles and long-range attack drones to Ukraine as kyiv steps up its military aid in preparation for a long-awaited counter-offensive.

The UK will provide Ukraine with air defense missiles and unmanned aerial systems, including military drones with a range of more than 200 kilometers, or 125 miles, London said on Monday.

This coincided with the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky arriving in the UK after a quick visit to several European countries, meeting the British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the estate of the British leader, Checkers. During their brief European tour, several of Ukraine’s Western allies, including France and Germany, promised Ukraine new military aid packages ahead of kyiv’s planned counter-offensive.

The new air defense missiles and drones “will be delivered in the coming months,” Downing Street said in a press release, to “support Ukraine in the coming months in its anticipated military advance to counter Russian force.”

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (right) greets President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky upon his arrival at Checkers on May 15, 2023 in Aylesbury, England. The UK will provide Ukraine with air defense missiles and unmanned aerial systems with a range of 200 kilometers, or 125 miles, the British government said on Monday.Carl Court/Getty Images

The British Ministry of Defense and Number 10 refused to give any further details about these new weapons committed to Ukraine. It is not known how many “hundreds” of air defense missiles and drones will arrive in Ukraine, nor what specific systems will be chosen.

“The identity of the supplied equipment will be a matter of great interest, as will its performance,” military expert David Hambling suggested on Monday.

“Unlike other allies, the UK is generally vague about the exact supply of the kit,” he said. news weekadding that the UK could look to “acquire third-party equipment, probably of Russian origin, to assist air defence.”

The UK does not have ready supplies of equipment “that can be easily transferred to the Ukraine off the shelf,” Hambling argued.

The UK’s decision to provide a series of long-range capabilities to Kiev in recent days marks a turning point in Western aid packages for Ukraine, according to Fabian Hoffmann, a PhD researcher at the University of Oslo, Norway.

“I really believe that we are getting to the point where we are providing Ukraine, in principle, with the types of weapon systems that it needs, not only to defend and stabilize the front line, but also to push back effectively,” he said. . news week on Monday. “So I think it’s a really significant development.”

But the number of missiles and drone systems the UK will provide Ukraine is key, he added, saying: “Quantity has a quality of its own, and that is certainly the case in modern high-intensity warfare.”

The British government announced last week that it would send an undisclosed number of Storm Shadow long-range cruise missiles to Ukrainewhich has the longest range of any missile so far offered to kyiv by its Western backers.

On Thursday, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told British lawmakers that the missiles “are now entering or within the country itself.”

Russia has since claimed that Ukraine has used Storm Shadow missiles against targets in the eastern Donbas region. On Monday, Moscow’s Defense Ministry said it had intercepted a Storm Shadow cruise missile, but gave no further details.

Kremlin Spokesperson, Dmitry Peskovhe said the British government’s decision to supply these new weapons “only leads to more destruction and fighting.”

But these weapons mark a “very substantial development” because they allow Ukraine to access targets much further from the front, Hoffmann said. Experts previously said news week that he Storm Shadow missiles, with an estimated range of 155 milesit will allow Ukraine to attack hardened or underground targets, as well as command centers, ammunition depots and supply lines.

Although details of the drones are not yet known, they likely have a substantially smaller warhead than cruise missiles, Hoffmann predicted. A cheaper alternative to a cruise missile, “they just can’t have the same impact” because they lack the same “explosive power” compared to Storm Shadow, he said.

“Storm Shadow will probably be reserved for really high-value targets that are hard to hit with other weapon systems due to their fortified nature,” Hoffmann said, while drones can still do “very substantial damage” on less-fortified targets behind. from the front lines. .

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