UK looking at extra military aid for Ukraine as Russian attacks continue

Boris Johnson said ‘we are certainly looking at what more military assistance we can give’ after reports that the UK could send armoured vehicles.

07 April 2022

The UK is set to step up the supply of arms to Ukraine after Kyiv pleaded for greater firepower to fight back against the Russian invasion.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK is “certainly looking at what more military assistance we can give” as Nato allies considered how to bolster Ukraine’s resistance.

Ukrainian generals have visited the UK to see some of the kit that could potentially be offered, including armoured vehicles which could offer troops protection from Russian attack as they move around the war zone.

Mr Johnson said Vladimir Putin’s forces have engaged in a “systematic slaughter of innocent people” in Ukraine and the world is now overwhelmingly on the side of Kyiv.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the UK is “stepping up” the supply of arms, as she joined Nato counterparts in Brussels to hear the demands from Ukraine for more equipment.

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg acknowledged that Ukraine urgently needs more weapons as he appeared alongside Kyiv’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba.

He said he is “certain that we will address the need” for more air defence systems, anti-tank missiles and “heavier weapons”.

The Czech Republic has reportedly sent Soviet-era tanks and personnel carriers to Ukraine, and The Times suggested the UK is also drawing up plans to supply armoured vehicles to help resist Russian forces.

“In the face of Putin’s appalling aggression in Ukraine, the G7 and Nato are stepping up our efforts on sanctions and on weapons,” Ms Truss said at Nato headquarters.

“The UK is now banning all imports of Russian energy, we are sanctioning more banks, and we are stepping up our supply of weapons to Ukraine.”

Nato allies fear that Russia’s decision to withdraw from areas around Kyiv will allow Mr Putin to concentrate his offensive in Ukraine’s east.

Belgium Russia Ukraine War NATO
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss arrives at Nato HQ on Thursday (Olivier Matthys/AP)

Mr Kuleba told reporters at the alliance’s headquarters: “My agenda is very simple, it has only three items on it: weapons, weapons and weapons.

“We are confident that the best way to help Ukraine now is to provide it with all necessary (weapons) to contain Putin and to defeat the Russian army in the territory of Ukraine so the war does not spill over further.”

He suggested that an increased supply of arms could help prevent further atrocities such as the slaughter of civilians in the town of Bucha, close to Kyiv.

“The more weapons we get and the sooner they arrive in Ukraine, the more human lives will be saved, the more cities and villages will not be destroyed, and there will be no more Buchas,” he said.

“I call on all allies to put aside their hesitation, their reluctance, to provide Ukraine with everything it needs because, as weird as it may sound today, weapons serve the purpose of peace.”

According to The Times, options under consideration at the Ministry of Defence include sending Mastiff or Jackal patrol vehicles to Ukraine.

The UK is already supplying equipment including anti-tank and anti-air missiles to Ukraine’s armed forces.

Ukraine’s deputy defence minister, Volodymyr Havrylov, and senior military officers visited the UK this week to examine the equipment that might be available to them – including protected mobility vehicles.

Armed forces minister James Heappey said: “It was an honour to show Minister Havrylov and his generals the kit the UK hopes to provide next and to discuss some new weapons that have been trialled recently with UK forces.”

The latest Ministry of Defence intelligence assessment confirmed Russia is now focused on operations in the Donbas region in the east of Ukraine.

“Russian artillery and air strikes continue along the Donbas line of control,” the MoD said.

“Russian strikes against infrastructure targets within the Ukrainian interior are likely intended to degrade the ability of the Ukrainian military to resupply and increase pressure on the Ukrainian government.

“Despite refocusing forces and logistics capabilities to support operations in the Donbas, Russian forces are likely to continue facing morale issues and shortages of supplies and personnel.”

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