The UK government on Thursday announced it would send Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine, becoming the first country to provide longer-range weapons to Kyiv.
“Today I can confirm that the UK is donating Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine,” said Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.
“The donation of these weapons systems gives Ukraine the best chance to defend themselves against Russia’s continued brutality.
“Ukraine has a right to be able to defend itself against this and the use of Storm Shadow will allow Ukraine to push back Russian forces based within Ukrainian sovereign territory,” he added.
Storm Shadow is an air-launched long-range, deep-strike weapon, “designed to meet the demanding requirements of pre-planned attacks against high value fixed or stationary targets,” according to manufacturer MBDA.
The missile, which can be operated in extreme conditions, has been used by British and French forces in the Gulf, Iraq and Libya.
The UK is the second largest provider of military assistance to Ukraine, donating anti-tank missiles, artillery guns, air defence systems, armoured fighting vehicles, anti-structure munitions and three M270 long-range multiple launch rocket systems.
It announced a significant uplift in combat support in January, including the provision of 14 Challenger II main battle tanks.
“As the conflict in Ukraine has evolved, so has the types of weaponry being provided,” said a House of Commons report into military assistance since the Russian invasion.
“Ahead of an expected spring offensive, by both sides, the focus has been on providing Ukraine, in the short window available, with the capability to both defend their territory and to enable them to retake ground currently under Russian control,” it added.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said his military needs more time to prepare for the highly anticipated counter-offensive, according to an interview published by the BBC on Thursday.