In a significant development, the United Kingdom has officially confirmed its provision of long-range missiles to Ukraine, fulfilling the country’s request for assistance in its fight against the invading Russian forces.
The supplied weapon, the Storm Shadow cruise missile, boasts an impressive range of over 250 kilometers (155 miles), as stated by the manufacturer.
In contrast, the US-supplied Himars missiles currently used by Ukraine have a range of approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles).
The provision of these missiles is seen as a critical measure to enhance Ukraine’s defense capabilities. UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace emphasized that these advanced weapons would offer Ukraine the “best chance” of protecting itself from aggression. With their extended range, Ukrainian pilots can engage targets from safer distances, mitigating risks associated with frontline operations.
The Storm Shadow missile, upon launch, operates at low altitudes to evade enemy radar detection before utilizing an infrared seeker to home in on its target. This stealthy approach enhances its effectiveness and ensures a higher probability of mission success.
Defense Secretary Wallace announced the supply of Storm Shadow missiles in the House of Commons. The decision comes in response to repeated appeals from Ukraine for increased military support from Western nations. Wallace stated that these missiles would enable Ukraine to push back against Russian forces encroaching on Ukrainian sovereign territory.
Wallace also underlined the UK’s rationale for this decision, highlighting Russia’s relentless targeting of civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. He further revealed that he had written to his Russian counterpart in December, warning that further aggression could result in the UK donating even more potent weaponry. Describing the move as “calibrated and proportionate to Russia’s escalations,” Wallace affirmed that the Storm Shadow missiles were already in Ukrainian hands or on their way.
While acknowledging the compatibility of these British-supplied missiles with Ukraine’s existing fleet of Soviet-era planes, Wallace cautioned that their range is not on par with Russia’s advanced missile systems, some of which possess far greater distances capabilities.
Earlier this year, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov assured the international community that longer-range missiles would not be employed to target Russian territory.
In an EU meeting, he emphasized that Ukraine was willing to guarantee that these weapons would be used solely for defensive purposes, not for initiating attacks on Russian soil.
In February, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed his readiness to send long-range missiles to Ukraine, signaling the British government’s commitment to assisting Ukraine in safeguarding its cities from aerial threats. The procurement process for these missiles was subsequently initiated.
In response to the British decision, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that Moscow would take an “appropriate” military response if Ukrainian forces employed the supplied Storm Shadow weapons.
It is crucial to note that the Storm Shadow missile has been utilized by the British and French air forces in previous operations, including engagements in the Gulf, Iraq, and Libya. While the British-supplied missiles are designed for aircraft deployment, the French variant can be launched from ships and submarines.
The UK’s provision of Storm Shadow long-range missiles underscores the international community’s support for Ukraine’s defense against Russian aggression. These advanced weapons aim to contribute to a more secure and stable region by augmenting Ukraine’s capabilities.
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