Britain announces $59M air defense package for Ukraine

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Nov. 19 (UPI) — Britain will provide Ukraine with a new weapons package, including more than 100 anti-aircraft guns and other critical air defenses, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed on Saturday.

Sunak called his in-person meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the capital of Kyiv “deeply humbling.”

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The trip marked Sunak’s first trip to that country since becoming prime minister in October.

“Britain knows what it means to fight for freedom. We are with you all the way,” Sunak tweeted on Saturday.

The two leaders discussed security, specifically protecting Ukraine’s critical infrastructure and civilian population during the cold winter months.

The weapons package is valued at approximately $59 million and includes 125 anti-aircraft guns, as well as technology to counter deadly Iranian-supplied drones. The drones, which are harder to shoot down by air defense systems because of their small size, have been effective in inflicting significant damage to power stations and other critical civilian infrastructure in Ukraine ahead of the cold winter season.

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After steadfastly denying that it supplied the drones to Russia, Iran admitted earlier this month that it did indeed provide the unmanned aerial weapons but suggested the transfers took place before Moscow invaded Ukraine.

Sunak promised Britain will supply dozens of radars as well as anti-drone electronic warfare capability. The pledge follows more than 1,000 new anti-air missiles announced by Britain earlier this month.

Ukrainian forces say Russia rained down more than 148 missile strikes on critical infrastructure over the last week, leaving approximately 10 million people without power.

Britain is also bolstering its training of Ukrainian’s armed forces, sending expert army medics and engineers to the region to offer specialized support.

“While Ukraine’s armed forces succeed in pushing back Russian forces on the ground, civilians are being brutally bombarded from the air,” Sunak said “We are today providing new air defense, including anti-aircraft guns, radar and anti-drone equipment, and stepping up humanitarian support for the cold, hard winter ahead.”