U.K. to send rocket systems to Ukraine after report that Boris Johnson sought U.S. approval
LONDON — The U.K. is set to send multiple launch rocket systems to the Ukrainian military in a bid to help counter Russia’s brutal attacks.
According to a statement by the British Foreign Office, reports CNN, the U.K. will provide Ukraine with M270 launchers, which can strike targets over 49 miles away. The advanced medium-range rocket systems will offer a “significant boost in capability for the Ukrainian forces.”
Ukrainian soldiers will be trained in the U.K. on how to use the weapons system.
Ben Wallace, Britain’s defense secretary, said Wednesday: “The U.K. stands with Ukraine and has taken a leading role in supplying its heroic troops with the vital weapons they need to defend their country."
As Russia’s “tactics change, so must our support to Ukraine,” he added. “These highly capable multiple launch rocket systems will enable our Ukrainian friends to better protect themselves against Russia’s brutal use of long-range artillery, which [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s forces have used indiscriminately to flatten cities.”
The gift was “coordinated closely” with the U.S., the report said.
The weapons package comes as Russia’s war against its smaller neighbor has transformed into a city-by-city grind in Ukraine’s eastern region. Artillery has become a dominant weapon for both sides, and the range of more advanced rocket systems is a key advantage.
The U.K. reportedly asked the Biden administration to sign off on a plan to send the American-made launchers to Ukraine. According to a source cited by Politico, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke with President Biden about transferring the weapons.
Meanwhile, Washington confirmed that it would send similar advanced weapons as part of a new $700 million military assistance package for Ukraine. The package includes High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and ammunition, the Defense Department said.
As part of the announcement, Ukraine promised the Biden administration that it would not use those rocket systems to hit targets inside Russia. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Kyiv had “given us assurances that they will not use these systems against targets on Russian territory.”
The Kremlin said the weapons would discourage Ukraine from rejoining peace talks that have been stalled. “We believe that the United States is purposefully and diligently adding fuel to the fire,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said the assistance would risk a “third country” being drawn into the war.