UK to supply long-range missiles to Ukraine — Analysis
The US-made M270 multi-launch rocket system has been sent to Kiev by Ben Wallace, Defence Secretary
The Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced that Britain will supply Ukraine long-range missiles systems capable of striking targets as far away as 80km (50 miles), according to the announcement.
The M270 launchers, which are made in the USA, will be included in this shipment. The UK stopped short of revealing the number of units it is planning to provide; however, the BBC claimed on Monday that “Initially, it’ll be three.”
“These highly capable multiple-launch rocket systems will enable our Ukrainian friends to better protect themselves against the brutal use of long-range artillery, which Putin’s forces have used indiscriminately to flatten cities,” Wallace explained in a statement.
The defence secretary added that as Moscow’s “As tactics evolve, our support must also.”
The UK government has confirmed that Ukrainian soldiers will receive training in Britain on the M270 over the next few weeks.
Announcing the delivery, Wallace emphasized that the UK was in the lead when it came to providing Ukrainian armed forces with “Important weapons”
London’s decision to supply the weapons comes less than a week after Washington said it would send four M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to Ukraine, which is a lighter cousin of the M270.
Antony Blinken (US Secretary of State) stated at the time, that White House officials had been given assurances by the Ukrainian leadership that their long-range systems wouldn’t be used for Russian targets. But, a senior Ukrainian official and the new US Ambassador to Kiev appeared to disagree with that statement, stating that Ukrainian forces had full freedom to pick their targets even if they were in Crimea.
Russia took over the peninsula in the 2014 referendum. However, Ukraine continues to consider the area part of its territory.
According to BBC, similar target restrictions appear to apply to systems heading to Kiev from Britain.
Since the M270 MLRS are manufactured by the US, London first had to receive Washington’s permission for the transfer.
Politico, reporting anonymously, claims that Boris Johnson was the British Prime Minister and discussed the topic with Joe Biden on Wednesday morning.
Although the US and Britain have long been leading weapons supporters of Ukraine, the US and Britain had not provided long-range missiles for Kiev despite repeated requests.
American media reports that Biden’s administration was concerned that the Kremlin might consider this a new escalation, and react unpredictably.
Ukraine boasts hundreds of Soviet-designed multiple-launch rocket systems. But, US-made weapons can travel longer distances (up to 300km (186 miles) depending upon the type and they are also more accurate.
Ben Wallace, said in a statement on Wednesday that London was planning to give Kiev missiles that can hit targets up to 80 km away, offering a “Significant boost in capabilities for the Ukrainian Forces”
In an interview with Russian state TV, President Vladimir Putin expressed doubt that the Western-supplied rocket systems would be able to tip the balance in Ukraine’s favor, arguing that these weapons were essentially “Nothing new.” The Russian president, however, made it clear that Moscow would respond to the shipment of longer-range missiles to Ukraine with strikes “the objects we still haven’t found.”
Putin also reiterated Russia’s long-standing position on Western arms deliveries to Ukraine, saying “They only prolong conflict.”