Britain to arm Ukraine with long-range rocket systems

0
9

June 6 (UPI) — Britain said Monday it will send Ukraine long-range rocket systems that Kyiv has been asking for despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s warnings against sending the invaded country advanced weaponry.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace announced it was sending M270 launchers, which can hit targets up to 50 miles away, in a statement, saying London’s support for Kyiv would change along with Russia’s war.

Advertisement

“These highly capable multiple-launch rocket systems will enable our Ukrainian friends to better protect themselves against the brutal use of long-range artillery, which Putin’s forces have used indiscriminately,” he said.

The ministry said the weapon system is expected to “significantly boost” the current capability of the Ukrainian forces, and its decision to give them to Kyiv was done in close coordination with the United States, which announced last week that it would be sending similar weapon systems to the Eastern European country.

The Ukrainian troops will received training on the new equipment in Britain, the ministry said.

“The UK stands with Ukraine in this fight and is taking a leading role in supplying its heroic troops with the vital weapons they need to defend their country from unprovoked invasion,” Wallace said. “If the international community continues its support, I believe Ukraine can win.”

Advertisement

The weapons are being delivered as Ukraine officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, have been asking allies for more advanced weaponry to counter Russian artillery attacks in eastern Donbas region.

Russia has warned nations against arming Ukraine with longer-range missile systems and Putin said in an interview published Sunday that they would retaliate.

“If it now comes to rockets and they are supplied, we will draw conclusions from that and employ our weapons that we have in sufficient quantities to strike those facilities that we are not attacking so far,” he said.

Britain on Monday said that Russia a day earlier struck rail infrastructure in Kyiv with cruise missiles in an attempt to disrupt the supply of Western military equipment to the frontline Ukrainian troops.

It also added that heavy fighting continues in the Donbas region.

Britain and the United States have been arming Ukraine against Russia, which invaded the country Feb. 24.

London’s Justice Ministry separately announced Monday a second package of support for the International Criminal Court’s investigation into war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine.

The package includes a legal and police team that will offer the court support, which is on top of the $1.25 million it put toward the effort earlier this year.

Advertisement

“This will include a dedicated Metropolitan Police officer stationed in the Hague providing the ICC with swift access to further British police and military expertise,” the ministry said in a statement. “Seven UK lawyers well experienced in international criminal law have been offered to help uncover evidence and prosecute those responsible for war crimes.”