UK confirms it’s delivered long-range missiles to Ukraine

UK defense secretary says move is a ‘calibrated and proportionate response to Russia’s escalations.’

The U.K. has delivered long-range missiles to Ukraine in a move which grants Kyiv the ability to strike targets in Russian-occupied Crimea.

Britain’s Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told the House of Commons Thursday that the Storm Shadow missiles, promised by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in February, “are now going into or are in the country itself” and will complement other long-range systems already gifted to the country including HIMARS and Harpoon missiles.

“The donation of these weapons systems gives the Ukrainians the best chance to defend themselves against Russia’s continued brutality, especially the deliberate targeting of Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, which is against international law,” Wallace said.

The Storm Shadow missiles, jointly developed by Britain and France, have arrived in time for Ukraine’s long-anticipated spring counter-offensive against Russian forces. They have a range of about 560 kilometers — the necessary range to strike deep into Russian-occupied territories in Eastern and Southern Ukraine, including Crimea.

Wallace said these systems “are not even in the same league” as some missiles being used by Russia, including its AS-24 or Killjoy hypersonic missiles or even the Kalibr-cruise missile with a range of over 2,000 km.

And the British defense secretary described the move to donate these weapons as a “calibrated and proportionate response to Russia’s escalations.”

Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, warned Britain’s move would “demand an adequate response from our military, which will, naturally, from a military point of view, find corresponding solutions.” He did not provide further details.

‘Push back’

Kyiv has long lobbied allies, including Britain and the U.S., for longer-range missiles — and it is still trying to obtain U.S.-made Army Tactical Missile Systems {ATACMS). But some Western allies harbor concerns Ukraine could use long-range missiles to strike against Russian territory, potentially triggering a further escalation in Moscow’s response.

Wallace stressed that “the use of Storm Shadow will allow Ukraine to push back Russian forces based within Ukrainian sovereign territory” — but stopped short of clarifying whether this meant the British government now expects Ukraine to use them to strike Russian-occupied regions.

The British move has U.S. President Joe Biden’s team breathing a quiet sigh of relief, according to multiple U.S. officials who spoke to POLITICO. They hope it will silence critics who want the U.S. to send ATACMS since Ukraine may soon get the long-range capability from London.

Asked if the administration might follow Britain’s lead in sending long-range missiles, one U.S. official, who like others wasn’t authorized to detail internal deliberations, said “our policy on ATACMS has not changed.” Instead, the official said the U.S. will continue to provide air-defense capabilities like Patriots, ammunition and armored vehicles.

The author of this article is Cristina Gallardo

The report was published here, in Político: