On Thursday, in a historic move, Britain has become the first country to provide Ukraine with long-range cruise missiles, marking a significant development in Ukraine’s military capabilities. These missiles will enable Ukrainian forces to target Russian troops and supply depots situated deep within the front lines.
While Ukraine has been requesting long-range missiles for several months, support from countries like Britain and the United States had previously been limited to shorter-range weapons. The Storm Shadow cruise missiles have a range of over 250 kilometers (155 miles), surpass the capabilities of the US-supplied Himars missiles, which have a range of approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles), European missile maker MBDA, who made them said.
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The provision of these missiles is expected to enhance Ukraine’s defense capabilities, according to UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, who expressed confidence that they would offer Ukraine the best chance at defending itself. The extended range of the Storm Shadow missiles allows Ukrainian pilots to operate further away from the frontlines. Once launched, these missiles descend to low altitudes to avoid detection by enemy radar and then utilize an infrared seeker to lock onto their targets.
Highlighting what he perceives as deliberate targeting of civilians, Wallace emphasized that Russia’s actions alone have necessitated the provision of such advanced weaponry to Ukraine. He stated that Britain is supplying the Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine with the understanding that they will be used within Ukrainian territory.
Acknowledging that the British-supplied missiles are not on par with Russia’s own missile systems, Wallace cautioned that some of Moscow’s weapons have significantly longer ranges. The Kremlin had previously warned of an adequate response from its military if Britain were to provide these missiles to Ukraine.
In recent days, Russia has launched a series of long-range missile strikes against Ukraine. The Russian government claims that these attacks aim to degrade Ukraine’s fighting capability and denies deliberately targeting civilians. After six months of maintaining a defensive posture, Ukraine is expected to launch a counteroffensive soon.
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As the second-largest supplier of military aid to Ukraine after the United States, Britain contributed support worth 2.3 billion pounds ($2.9 billion) last year. Although the British contribution is lower than that of the United States, Britain has been the first to provide Ukraine with more advanced weapons in the past. In addition to the long-range missiles, Britain has previously supplied shoulder-launched anti-air and anti-tank weapons and has taken the initiative to train Ukrainian pilots on NATO fighter jets.
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