The United Kingdom will send anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine to help defend its skies against Russian attacks, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has announced.
The Amraam rockets are the first donated by Britain that are capable of shooting down cruise missiles.
The attacks were widely seen as Russian retaliation for a bombing targeting the Kersch bridge linking Russia to Crimea, a Russian-occupied region of Ukraine. Ukraine has officially denied involvement in targeting the bridge – though the strike severely wounded the political pride of Vladimir Putin, and struck a blow to his expansionist ambitions.
Hundreds of additional air defence missiles will also be donated as part of the package, along with hundreds of additional aerial drones to support Ukraine’s information gathering and logistics capabilities, and a further 18 howitzer artillery guns, in addition to the 64 already delivered.
The Defence Secretary said: “Russia’s latest indiscriminate strikes on civilian areas in Ukraine warrant further support to those seeking to defend their nation. So today I have authorised the supply of Amraam anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine.”
He said that along with surface-to-air missiles supplied by the US, “these weapons will help Ukraine defend its skies from attacks and strengthen their overall missile defence.”
It comes alongside £10 million in funding for Nato’s Comprehensive Assistance Package for Ukraine, intended to provide winter clothes, shelters, generators, fuel trucks and ambulances for the Ukrainian army.
The step comes ahead of a meeting of Nato defence ministers in Brussels on Thursday, when the Defence Secretary is to urge his allied counterparts to continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes.
The United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to condemn Russia’s annexations of parts of Ukraine after Moscow vetoed a similar effort in the Security Council.
The General Assembly approved the resolution with 143 in favour and five against, but 35 nations abstained, including China, India, South Africa and Pakistan, despite a major US diplomatic effort.
The Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, said: The vote “is a powerful demonstration of the international community’s widespread condemnation of Russia’s outrageous, illegal attempts to annex the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.”
He added: “This is an important show of international unity against an aggressor that seeks to destabilise the international norms that protect us all. In the face of President Putin’s unprovoked aggression, 143 nations across the globe have come together in defence of the UN Charter and in solidarity with Ukraine.
“The vote is indisputable evidence of what we have known for some time – Putin stands alone on the international stage and his actions are driving his country further into self-inflicted isolation.”