All countries could ‘do more’ in their support for Ukraine – Defence Secretary

·4-min read

The Defence Secretary has said all countries could “do more” when it comes to providing support to Ukraine.

Ben Wallace declined to confirm whether Stormer armoured anti-aircraft vehicles have been sent to Ukraine, but said the UK will “continue to give them the air defence they need”.

The Cabinet minister was speaking during a visit to The Hague for the Invictus Games, the event founded by the Duke of Sussex to aid the rehabilitation of injured and sick military personnel and veterans.

Asked if countries such as Germany could be doing more for Ukraine, he told the PA news agency: “We all could do more.

Invictus Games – The Hague
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace at the Invictus Games (Aaron Chown/PA)

“The Ukrainians need, first and foremost, they need long-range artillery and artillery shells.

“They use currently Russian Soviet stocks and the calibres are different from what the West holds, so not only are we trying to help them source those calibres so that they can immediately be used, but at the same time helping them explore developing new capabilities with what would be called Nato calibres so that if they choose to shift to that we can all help them with supply.”

Earlier this week, it emerged that the UK is to send armoured anti-aircraft vehicles to the Ukrainian military as they prepared for a Russian onslaught.

The Stormer vehicle launches Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles which can be used to target planes and helicopters.

It comes after Britain invited Ukrainian generals to Salisbury Plain earlier this month to see the military kit which could be available to them, including armoured vehicles.

Mr Wallace declined to confirm that those vehicles had been sent.

“I’m not going to comment on the operational details. I think to do so would put people at risk,” he said.

“We’ll continue to engage with Ukrainians on a daily basis. I spoke to my counterpart only yesterday.

“They share with us their requirements in military equipment and, where we can, we either meet them from our own stocks and if we can’t we work with third countries to try and encourage them to do it, or indeed give reassurance to countries that might donate it so that we can help with their security.”

Pressed on whether the Stormer vehicles are being sent, or have been sent already, Mr Wallace said: “I’ll be making a statement to Parliament next week, but we have said we are going to commit to deliver some armoured vehicles.

“We’ve also publicly talked about delivering high velocity anti-air missiles,” he said, adding that they go on an armoured vehicle.

“We will continue to give them the air defence they need.”

Mr Wallace also said it is very important that India – where Prime Minister Boris Johnson is meeting his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi – has the ability to “lead”, adding that Ukraine “matters for all of us”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson dressed in a turban during a visit to Gujarat Biotechnology Universit, in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, as part of his two-day trip to India
Prime Minister Boris Johnson dressed in a turban during a visit to Gujarat Biotechnology Universit, in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, as part of his two-day trip to India (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Asked how important it is that India begins to loosen ties with Russia, Mr Wallace said India is “a big strategic nation”, and a “massive” economy in the world.

He said: “It’s very important that India has its ability to lead and I would say as the Prime Minister is going to say, or has said, Ukraine matters for all of us, it matters what’s going on there and that we should all stand tall and be open in condemning Russia’s actions and illegal invasion.

“I think what we’ve also learned from the Ukraine invasion is no country benefits from being overdependent on one country, whether you’re Germany and Russian gas supplies, whether you’re India on vast amounts of Russian military equipment, it doesn’t benefit any country to be overdependent.

“It’s the same in the United Kingdom. I think more than anything India will look at how Russian equipment has performed in Ukraine and ask itself whether they’ve got the best equipment they could have.”

Asked if India would see Britain as important enough to listen to, Mr Wallace said the question would have to be put to India, but added that Britain is a “major military power”.

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