The British Government has become NATO country to agree to supply the Ukraine military with cutting edge long-range missile.
At a cost of £2.2 million, the missiles have a range of nearly 200 miles, longer than the American made M142 HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System), which according to reports have been so effective on the battlefield.
The decision by Secretary of State for Defence to send the missiles, increases the capability of the Ukraine military to hit important targets deep behind enemy lines.
It has been suggested that the Storm Shadow missiles will allow Kyiv to attack important military and infrastructure targets in the Crimea, which Russia annex in 2014.
One target that has been mentioned in reports suggest the Kerch Bridge linking Crimea with Russia, a key military resupply route, is the sort of target that will be top of the list for attack.
Making the announcement in the House of Common, Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, said that the Storm Shadow missiles would be sent to bolster Ukraine’s anticipated counter offensive.
“We are now on day 442 of the conflict. During this period, Moscow has, according to the United Nations, provoked the largest displacement of people in Europe since world war two, including almost 8 million refugees and almost 6 million internally forced from their homes.
“We must not lose sight of those staggering statistics. Worse still, Russia’s battlefield setbacks have led to its cynically targeting energy infrastructure, putting millions of people at risk of sickness and death in cold, unsanitary conditions. Take the besieged city of Bakhmut, where there are now fewer than 7,000 residents, one-tenth of the original population. For the last nine months they have been hiding in basements, without clean water, electricity or gas and with minimal connection to the outside world.
“From the scale of Russian attacks, it is clear that they have not limited themselves to military targets. Their purpose is simply to terrorise the local population into submission. That is the only conclusion that can be drawn when we look at Russia’s ever-expanding charge sheet of international humanitarian law violations. As of 2 April, there have been 788 attacks on healthcare facilities—hospitals, clinics and medical centres. There have been instances of damage to educational facilities—schools, day care centres and even nurseries.
“Meanwhile, Russia has plundered crops and agricultural equipment on an industrial scale, destroying grain storage and handling facilities. According to estimates from the Kyiv School of Economics, Russia stole or destroyed 4.04 million tonnes of grain and oilseeds, valued at $1.9bn, in Ukrainian territories during the 2022 season. Meanwhile, the Kremlin’s continued intransigence is contributing to the current backlog of grain exports…”
Mr Wallace continued: “…Today I can confirm that the UK is donating Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine. Storm Shadow is a long-range, conventional-only precision strike capability. It complements the long-range systems that have already been gifted, including the HIMARS and Harpoon missiles, as well as Ukraine’s own Neptune cruise missile and longer-range missiles gifted elsewhere. The donation of those weapon systems gives Ukraine the best chance to defend itself against Russia’s continued brutality, especially the deliberate targeting of Ukrainian civilian infrastructure against international law. Ukraine has a right to be able to defend itself against that.
“The use of Storm Shadow will allow Ukraine to push back Russian forces based within Ukrainian sovereign territory. I am sure that the House will understand that I will not go into further detail on the capabilities, but although those weapons will give Ukraine new capability, Members should recognise that those systems are not even in the same league as the Russian AS-24 “Killjoy” hypersonic missile, Iranian Shahed one-way attack drones, or even the Kalibr cruise missile, which has a range of more than 2,000 km—roughly seven times that of a Storm Shadow missile. Russia must recognise that its actions alone have led to such systems being provided to Ukraine. It is my judgment as Defence Secretary that this is a calibrated and proportionate response to Russia’s escalations.”
The US and other allies have ruled out sending longer-range missiles to Ukraine over fear of provoking the Russian President Putin into escalating the types of weapons used in Ukraine or even reprisals against the donor country.
An RAF source told the Telegraph that the Storm Shadow was“very potent, accurate and useful weapon that can be used for a variety of purposes”. They said it provided “a golf-bag of options” for Ukraine and would help with “levelling the playing field”.
Storm Shadow missiles fly at low altitude to avoid detection on radar, making them very hard to destroy. They carry two explosive charges, which can be programmed to work in different ways.
When striking a target such as an underground command bunker, the first charge is used to clear a way through before the second charge explodes inside.
It is reported that the announcement drew strong criticism from Russia’s ambassador to Britain, who accused the UK Government of “a big escalation for the conflict”.
Speaking in Oxford on Thursday, Andrey Kelin, said: “It’s a very big escalation for the conflict. Western countries were prudent enough not to do this.
“We understand Kyiv will be able to reach Russian towns, villages and Crimea. It’s a pity the UK is a country that is leading the prolongation of this conflict and making it morebloody.”