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Britain to spend £250m on artillery shells for Ukraine

Ukrainian soldier in battle
Ukraine needs 2.5 million artillery shells in 2024, Ukraine's foreign minister says - Julian Simmonds for The Telegraph

Britain will invest £250 million in producing artillery shells for the Ukrainian army amid pressure to put factories on a “war footing”.

Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary, announced the package on the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying it would boost “critical stockpiles” of ammunition.

Moscow’s forces are advancing across the front line in Ukraine and soldiers told The Telegraph on Thursday that they were no longer able to fire their rocket launchers as Western shell supplies had come to a halt.

Writing in The Telegraph on Saturday, Ben Wallace, the former defence secretary, called on BAE systems to step up operations at its Sunderland factory producing 155mm shells. “We can and must counter Russia’s advantage, even if that means putting our own 155mm shell factory on a war footing.”

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, warned EU counterparts this week his armed forces would need 2.5 million artillery shells in 2024.

Russia is currently firing five times more shells than Ukraine per day, thanks to drastically increased production in the country.

Following Saturday’s announcement, Mr Shapps said: “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.”

It came as Kyiv said on Friday that it had shot down an A-50U Russian spy plane over the Sea of Azov.

Ukraine’s military intelligence agency published a map appearing to show the plane had eventually crashed in southern Russia.

There was no official comment from Moscow, but authorities in Russia’s southern Krasnodar region said fire crews were at the scene of an air crash, without providing further details.

Biden berates Congress

On Friday, Joe Biden called on Congress to return from holiday and pass his $60 billion Ukraine aid package that has been stalled by Republican opposition.

“The bill provides urgent funding for Ukraine and if the Speaker called for a vote in the House it would pass easily today. Instead, they went on vacation,” he said, warning that Russia was once again taking Ukrainian land.

Mr Biden also announced a sweeping package of sanctions on 500 Russian targets in response to the death of Russia’s opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

“If Putin does not pay the price for his death and destruction, he will keep going,” Mr Biden said. “And the costs to the United States — along with our Nato allies and partners in Europe and around the world — will rise.”

Lord Cameron, the Foreign Secretary, warned Vladimir Putin would be “back for more” if the West allowed his invasion to succeed.

On the front line near the recently captured city of Avdiivka, a Ukrainian officer told The Telegraph this week that he had not been able to use his Grad rocket launcher for three days despite having Russian targets in his sights.

Call to seize Russia’s central bank assets

Writing for The Telegraph, Alicia Kearns, the chairman of the foreign affairs select committee, called on the Government to seize the assets of Russia’s central bank.

“Russia committed a crime of aggression,” she said. “It is right that their frozen funds pay for the defence and reconstruction of Ukraine.”

Around £220 billion of funds have been frozen by Western powers since the start of the war.

On Friday, Labour also announced a plan to boost support for Ukraine if it were to come into Government, stating that its first point of call would be to extend the UK’s training of Ukrainian forces.

David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary, also pledged to boost UK industrial production by fast-tracking the Spring Budget’s £2 billion to restock the UK’s Armed Forces and Ukraine.

The UK’s own ammunition stocks have dwindled following the Russian invasion, with MPs warning that stockpiles are “dangerously low”.

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