UK supplying Ukraine with Storm Shadow missiles will ‘shed light on our Victory’, says Kyiv defence minister
Ukraine’s defence minister on Thursday hailed Britain for supplying Storm Shadow long range missiles to help his embattled nation defend itself against Russia’s invasion.
Oleksii Reznikov suggested the missiles would help Ukraine to “shed light on our Victory”.
It came after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed that the UK is sending such weapons to help Kyiv with its planned counter-offensive which is expected to be launched within weeks.
In a Tweet Mr Reznikov wrote: “The weather forecast is predicting a cyclone moving from the UK towards Ukraine, bringing with it Storms. It is through the Shadow of the Storm that the sunshine of our liberty will break through and shed light on our Victory.”
The weather forecast is predicting a cyclone moving from the UK towards Ukraine, bringing with it Storms.
It is through the Shadow of the Storm that the sunshine of our liberty will break through and shed light on our Victory.
— Oleksii Reznikov (@oleksiireznikov) May 11, 2023
Mr Wallace told MPs in the Commons the donation of the weapons was a “calibrated” and “proportionate” response to Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine and gave Ukrainians the "best chance to defend themselves”.
The Kremlin said Moscow would take an “appropriate” military response to any British-supplied Storm Shadow weapons used by Ukrainian forces.
The Storm Shadow cruise missile has a range of over 250km (155 miles), according to the manufacturer.
They are fired from aircraft, so the longer range means Ukrainian pilots will be able to stay further from the frontlines.
Once launched, the Storm Shadow drops to low altitude to avoid detection by enemy radar, before latching onto its target with an infra-red seeker.
The decision to provide them follows repeated pleas from Ukraine for more weapons from the West.
Earlier this year, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov insisted longer-range missiles would not be used to attack targets within Russia itself.
Updating the Commons on the conflict, Mr Wallace said: “We simply will not stand by while Russia kills civilians.
“We have seen what Ukrainians can do when they have the right capabilities,” stressing how drones and cruise missiles had been shot down.
“That is why the Prime Minister and I have now taken the decision to provide longer range capabilities.
“Today I can confirm that the UK is donating Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine.
“Storm Shadow is a long range, conventional-only, precision-strike capability.
“It complements the long range systems already gifted including HIMARs (light multiple rocket launcher) and Harpoon missiles, as well as Ukraine’s own Neptune cruise missile....”
Mr Wallace explained further: “The donation of these weapon systems gives Ukraine the best chance to defend themselves against Russia’s continued brutality, especially the deliberate targeting of Ukrainian civilian infrastructure which is against international law.
“Ukraine has a right to be able to defend itself against this.
“The use of Storm Shadow will allow Ukraine to push back Russian forces based within Ukrainian sovereign territory.”
The Defence Secretary told MPs that he would not give further details about the capabilities.
But he added that "while these weapons will give Ukraine new capability, members should recognise that these systems are not even in the same league as the Russian AS-24 killjoy hypersonic missile" or "even the Kalibr cruise missile with a range of over 2,000 kilometres, roughly seven times that of a Storm Shadow missile".
Mr Wallace, though, went on: "Russia must recognise that their actions alone have led to such systems being provided to Ukraine.
"It is my judgment as Defence Secretary that this is a calibrated and proportionate response to Russia's escalations."
On Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow would take an “appropriate” military response to any British-supplied Storm Shadow weapons used by Ukrainian forces.
The Ministry of Defence in London tweeted this morning: “Due to Russia’s continued attacks on Ukrainian civilian areas, more than 11 million people have been displaced. Despite the Kremlin’s sustained lie that they would not attack civilians or their infrastructure.”
Britain has led the West in arming Ukraine, first with NLAWs (Next-generation Light Anti-tank Weapons), and later by pledging Challenger II tanks, leading to Germany and other European nations sending Leopard II tanks, and America Abrams.
However, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky is still pleading for fighter jets to force Putin’s troops out of his country which was invaded in February 2022.
Mr Wallace added that the Kremlin cannot hide the fact that Putin’s invasion is "already failing”.
He explained: "Travelling through that country (Ukraine), as I have done several times since the invasion, you see the smashed buildings and the piles of rubble where once there were thriving businesses and homes full of life.
"They reveal the truth of Russia's invasion: the needless destruction and the gratuitous violence, the continuing violations despite warnings of international law and the deliberate targeting and killing of civilians.
"They are the visible and tragic symbols of the Kremlin's desperation."
He added: "The Kremlin cannot hide the fact that their invasion is already failing. They can only occupy the rubble left by their destruction."
The Defence Secretary noted that this week's Victory Day Parade showcased "this historic failure", adding: "It demonstrated Putin's efforts to twist the Soviet Union sacrifice against the Nazis with an insult to their own Immortal Regiment.”
UK Storm Shadow missiles "will strengthen Ukraine's fight to repel the Russian forces", shadow defence secretary John Healey told MPs.
He said: "We are united in our determination to help in the defence of Ukraine and of our shared values ... we welcome this vital new military support as the Ukrainians prepare for their expected counter-offensive.
"Today's announcement of UK Storm Shadow missiles will strengthen Ukraine's fight to repel the Russian forces and to defend against the brutal attacks."
He warned: "Russia is far from a spent military force and the next few weeks and few months will be critical. I'm really proud of British military leadership over the last year on Ukraine. I want in six months' time to be able to say the same.
"We want the UK's momentum for Ukraine to be maintained and accelerated ... we must and we will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes."