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.
He told the House of Commons: “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.”
“Ukraine has a right to be able to defend itself against this.”
Manufacturer MBDA says the Storm Shadow missile has a range in excess of 150 miles, giving Kyiv the ability to strike behind the Russian front line.
Britain is understood to have received assurances that the missiles will only be used defensively against targets within Ukrainian territory being occupied by Vladimir Putin’s forces.
Mr Wallace would not go into detail on the number of missiles that would be provided but said it is “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”.
Mr Wallace insisted it is 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 that MPs should recognise that Storm Shadow missiles “are not even in the same league” as some of the long-range weapons Russia has used.
“They can only occupy the rubble left by their destruction.”
Labour welcomed the announcement, with shadow defence secretary John Healey saying Storm Shadow “will strengthen Ukraine’s fight to repel the Russian forces”.
He added: “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.”
Addressing calls to provide jets to Ukraine, Mr Wallace said: “We offered … to the Ukrainians training on Typhoons. I recently received a letter turning that off as a request, and asking us for support on the F-16, which of course we don’t hold.
“However, I would encourage anybody to gift F-16s to help the Ukrainians.”