Shropshire Star

UK pledges £250m boost for Ukrainian artillery as war enters third year

The latest support package comes as Ukraine faces dwindling artillery supplies and uncertain support from the US.

Russian invasion of Ukraine

The UK has pledged to invest almost £250 million in producing artillery shells for Ukraine on the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country.

Artillery has been a key factor in Ukraine’s resistance to the invasion, and the £245 million package announced on Saturday is intended to replenish Kyiv’s reserves of artillery ammunition.

Making the announcement on Saturday, the second anniversary of the start of the conflict, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said Ukraine’s “steadfast determination and resilience” continued to “inspire the world”.

He said: “Against all odds, the armed forces of Ukraine have pushed back the Russian invaders to recapture half of the land Putin stole, while significantly degrading Russia’s capabilities – with around 30% of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet destroyed or damaged, and thousands of tanks and armoured vehicles reduced to scrap.

“But they cannot win this fight without the support of the international community – and that’s why we continue to do what it takes to ensure Ukraine can continue to fight towards victory.

Russia Ukraine War Year Two Photo Gallery
Experts have said the third year of the Russia-Ukraine war could be the toughest yet for Kyiv (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

“Nearly a quarter of a billion pounds’ worth of UK funding will boost their critical stockpiles of artillery ammunition, while the Royal Air Force completes a further delivery of advanced tank-busting missiles.

“Together, we will ensure Putin fails, and a victory for democracy, the rules-based international order, and the Ukrainian people.”

Saturday’s announcement follows confirmation on Thursday that the UK had delivered a further 200 Brimstone anti-tank missiles to Ukraine.

Other military equipment provided by the UK includes Challenger 2 tanks and long-range Storm Shadow missiles, while British forces have given training to Ukrainian soldiers in the UK and the Government continues to provide humanitarian assistance.

Marking the second anniversary of the conflict, Rishi Sunak said it was “the moment to show that tyranny will never triumph and to say once again that we will stand with Ukraine today and tomorrow”.

He said: “I was in Kyiv just a few weeks ago and I met wounded Ukrainian soldiers. Each harrowing story was a reminder of Ukraine’s courage in the face of terrible suffering.

“It was a reminder of the price they are paying not only to defend their country against a completely unjustified invasion, but also to defend the very principles of freedom, sovereignty and the rule of law, on which we all depend.

“The UK is going further in our support. I announced last month the biggest single package of defence aid to Ukraine, taking our total support to £12 billion and signed a ten-year agreement on security co-operation – the first of its kind.”

Also speaking on the second anniversary of the conflict, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer praised Ukraine’s “strength, resilience and courage” and recommitted his party to supporting their resistance to the Russian invasion.

He said: “When I met President Zelensky in Kyiv one year ago, I assured him that Britain stands united with Ukraine.

“That promise stands firm. No matter who is in power in this country, Britain will always back Ukraine.

“We will stand with them for as long as it takes to win, because we know it is not just the future of Ukraine at stake, but the future of democracy and global stability. We cannot and will not allow the cowardice and barbarity of Putin to prevail.”

Russian invasion of Ukraine
The UK has continued to provide weapons and other equipment for Ukraine, as President Zelensky calls for more support (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The latest round of equipment comes at a vital time for Ukraine, with experts suggesting the third year of the conflict could be the toughest yet as US President Joe Biden struggles to secure approval for further military aid.

Republicans in the US Congress have sought to block military aid to Ukraine as part of a partisan battle over immigration, leading Volodymyr Zelensky to warn that Russia was exploiting delays in aid to his country.

Mr Zelensky specifically mentioned artillery shortages as a major problem, which the UK package announced on Saturday is intended to help tackle.

On Saturday, the head of the British armed forces, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, praised Ukraine’s “extraordinary feats of operational and strategic success” and urged Kyiv’s allies to remain united.

He said: “If we maintain the unity and cohesion we’ve seen to date, and keep strongly supporting our brave Ukrainian partners – militarily, economically and diplomatically – Russia will continue to fail and Ukraine will build the foundations to flourish as a strong, prosperous and sovereign nation.”

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