Defence secretary Grant Shapps confirms transfer of two navy minehunters to Ukraine

Britain is sending two Royal Navy minehunter ships to Ukraine to boost its Black Sea capabilities in the face of Russia’s aggressive invasion, officials said.

UK defence secretary Grant Shapps said the aid is part of the collaborative effort between Britain and Norway to bolster the Ukrainian Navy. Strong maritime forces are critical to fight Russia’s aggression and facilitate grain and steel shipments through the Black Sea, Mr Shapps said.

UK is also sending amphibious armoured vehicles and coastal raiding boats to the nation under siege.

“It’s not just those couple of ships, but we’re launching something called the ‘Maritime Coalition’, which is a British-led...but international plan to ensure that not only can they be-mine that part of the sea, but Ukraine can build a navy for the future,” Mr Shapps told the BBC.

The Maritime Capability Coalition set up with Norway will help bolster Ukraine’s maritime training, equipment, and infrastructure.

"Securing the seas is the only way to defeat a tyrant like Putin, to guarantee the long-term independence and prosperity for Ukraine and for the whole of Europe," Mr Shapps said.

Mr Shapps and Norwegian defence minister Bjorn Arild Gram confirmed the formation of a maritime capability coalition during a news conference in London, saying other nations were expected to join soon, making it a "truly global affair."

British officials said this new coalition will work with Ukraine to expand its forces in the Black Sea, develop a Ukrainian Marine Corps and enhance the use of river patrol craft to defend inland and coastal waterways.

Last week, British foreign secretary David Cameron lauded the success of Ukraine’s naval forces against Russia’s massive Black Sea Fleet as a reason for continued military support from the US and other democracies to the Kyiv government at a time the Russian invasion has crossed 22nd month.

"Ukraine doesn’t even really have a navy, but they have managed to sink about a fifth of the Russian Black Sea Fleet," Mr Cameron said at the Aspen Security Forum in Washington. "Well, that is – a remarkable thing."

At a time the US is struggling to gather unanimous support for Ukraine and Israel aid amid political dispute in Congress, the European commitment to the besieged nation against the invasion from Russia is seen as firm.