The UK will supply Ukraine with multiple-launch rocket systems to help the country defend itself against Russian long-range artillery attacks, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has announced.
The cutting-edge M270 weapon system can strike targets up to 50 miles (80 kilometers) away with “pinpoint accuracy” and will offer a “significant boost in capability” for the Ukrainian forces, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.
The latest UK offer comes in response to requests from Ukrainian forces for longer-range precision weapons in order to defend themselves from Russian heavy artillery, which has been used to devastating effect in the eastern Donbas region, the MoD said.
In a statement, Wallace said: “The UK stands with Ukraine in this fight and is taking a leading role in supplying its heroic troops with the vital weapons they need to defend their country from unprovoked invasion. If the international community continues its support, I believe Ukraine can win.
“As Russia’s tactics change, so must our support to Ukraine. These highly capable multiple-launch rocket systems will enable our Ukrainian friends to better protect themselves against the brutal use of long-range artillery, which [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s forces have used indiscriminately to flatten cities.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK is offering the weapon systems so that the Ukrainian forces “can effectively repel the continuing Russian onslaught.”
The MoD said the decision to provide the launchers was closely coordinated with the U.S. government, which said it would supply High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems to Ukraine.
When the United States announced it would be sending the missiles, Putin vowed to hit new targets.
“If they are delivered, we will draw appropriate conclusions from this and use our weapons, which we have enough of, to strike at those objects that we have not yet hit,” he said in an interview with state TV channel Russia-1, which was filmed on Friday.
Kyiv’s residents awoke on Sunday to the first Russian strikes on the capital since April 28, while Moscow’s forces have also maintained steady pressure via artillery and air strikes in the eastern Donbas region.
Meanwhile, the UK announced that a specialist legal and police team will be offered to assist the chief prosecutor investigating alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine.
Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab on Monday unveiled a second package of support for the independent investigation, on top of the £1 million ($1.3 million) funding provided by the UK government earlier this year.
The offer will include a dedicated Metropolitan Police officer stationed in The Hague, providing the International Criminal Court and its prosecutor, Karim Khan, with swift access to further British police and military expertise.