In a significant move of support, the United Kingdom has confirmed its provision of long-range missiles to Ukraine in response to the ongoing invasion by Russian forces. Responding to Ukraine’s request, the UK is supplying the Storm Shadow cruise missile, renowned for its range of over 250km (155 miles) as stated by the manufacturer.
Compared to the US-supplied Himars missiles, which have a range of approximately 80km (50 miles), the Storm Shadow missiles will significantly bolster Ukraine’s defense capabilities. The extended range enables Ukrainian pilots to operate from safer distances, minimizing their exposure to frontline threats.
The Storm Shadow missiles are launched from aircraft and employ low-altitude flight to evade enemy radar detection, precisely homing in on targets using an infrared seeker.
The announcement was made by UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace in the House of Commons, following repeated pleas from Ukraine for additional support from Western nations. Wallace emphasized that the provision of these missiles would offer Ukraine the “best chance” to defend itself against the aggression of Russian forces operating within Ukrainian sovereign territory.
The decision comes in response to Russia’s continued targeting of civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, a trend that has been condemned by the international community. In December, Wallace wrote to his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, warning that further attacks could lead to the UK offering more advanced weaponry.
“The donation of these missile systems gives Ukraine the best chance of defending themselves against Russia’s brutality,” Wallace affirmed, underscoring the necessity of the response.
The defense secretary clarified that the missiles are either already in Ukrainian possession or in the process of being delivered. He described the action as “calibrated and proportionate” to Russia’s escalations, emphasizing that it would not have been necessary had Russia not initiated the invasion.
However, Wallace cautioned that the range of the Storm Shadow missiles provided by the UK does not match the capabilities of Russia’s own missile systems, which can travel much farther distances.
Referring to Ukrainian data, Wallace accused Russia of committing approximately 70,000 war crimes in Ukraine since the full-scale invasion began in 2022. These crimes include the deportation and internment of children, as well as the bombing of civilian infrastructure.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov had previously assured that the longer-range missiles would not be used to target Russian territory. During an EU meeting, he expressed Ukraine’s readiness to provide guarantees that the weapons supplied would not be employed in attacks on Russia.
In February, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged to send long-range missiles to Ukraine and initiated a procurement process for their acquisition. The British government aims to aid Ukraine in protecting its cities from Russian aggression.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov responded to the UK’s provision of Storm Shadow missiles, warning that Moscow would take an “appropriate” military response should Ukrainian forces employ these British-supplied weapons.
The Storm Shadow missile, utilized by both the British and French air forces, has previously been deployed in conflicts such as the Gulf, Iraq, and Libya. While the British-supplied missiles are aircraft-launched, French missiles possess the capability to be fired from ships and submarines.
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