UK pledges to send missiles to Ukraine as Russia warns of expanded conflict

World

The UK has pledged to send medium-range rocket systems to Ukraine after the US and Germany said they would equip the nation in its fight against the Russian invasion.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Britain would send an unspecified number of M270 launchers, which can fire precision-guided rockets up to 50 miles.

He said Ukrainian troops would also be trained in the UK to use the equipment.

Mr Wallace said the decision was made closely with the US government, which said it would supply advanced rocket systems, called HIMARS, to Ukraine on Wednesday.

The two missile systems are similar, although the US one has wheels while the British one, which is US-built, runs on tracks.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said his country would supply Ukraine with modern anti-aircraft missiles and radar systems this week after Germany was recently criticised for not doing enough to help Ukraine.

He said the IRIS-T’s surface-to-air missiles that Germany planned to provide were the most modern air defence system the country has.

More on Ukraine

And Sweden also announced plans to donate arms to Kyiv, including missiles, semi-automatic rifles and anti-tank weapons, the country’s defence minister Peter Hultqvist said.

He said: “As of today, the occupiers control almost 20% of our territory, almost 125,000 square kilometres (48,262 square miles).”

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What weapons are going to Ukraine?

It comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for more weapons after saying Russia had fired 15 cruise missiles in the past day and used a total of 2,478 missiles since invading Ukraine on 24 February.

He added that “most of them targeted civil infrastructure”.

After Western-supplied arms helped Ukraine protect itself from Russian attempts to storm the capital, Moscow focused its attention on instead seizing all of eastern Ukraine’s industrial Donbas region.

Military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said a rise in Russian missile strikes came in response to the newly promised arms.

He said: “Supplies of Western weapons are of great concern for the Kremlin, because even without sufficient weapons the Ukrainian army is daringly resisting the offensive.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called Ukraine’s repeated push for more weapons a “direct provocation intended to draw the West into the fighting.”

He warned that US-supplied multiple rocket launchers would raise the risk of an expanded conflict.

It comes as Russian forces kept up their bombardment of the Donbas and other parts of Ukraine while ground troops made an advance in the east.

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Russian forces continued to storm towns and cities overnight and tighten their grip on the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk.

A regional governor said Russian forces now control 80% of the city, which is key to Moscow’s efforts to complete its capture of the Donbas.

Russian forces are also trying to target the east Ukrainian village of Berestove which lies on a main road linking the Luhansk region’s city of Lysychansk to the rest of Ukraine, Ukraine’s General Oleksiy Gromov said on Wednesday.

He added Russia is close to capturing all of Luhansk and its forces are also trying to attack the town of Sviatohirsk in the Donetsk region.

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