Daily Express

Wallace backs up fire power with Kyiv visit

- By Cyril Dixon

DEFENCE Secretary Ben Wallace paid a surprise visit to Ukraine yesterday for talks on Britain’s military aid in the war against Russia.

Mr Wallace met his counterpar­t Oleksii Reznikov in Kyiv to discuss the UK’s supply of long-range cruise missiles to the war-torn nation.

Their chat came ahead of today’s virtual meeting of nations which back President Volodymyr Zelensky’s fight against Vladimir Putin.

The Ukraine Defense Contact Group will plan ways of bolstering its forces’ air defences and armoured manoeuvre capabiliti­es.

Britain supplied Storm Shadow rockets in response to Putin’s own use of longrange missiles to kill innocent people, with Mr Wallace telling the Commons: “We will not stand by while Russia kills civilians.

“[Missiles] will let Ukraine push back Russian forces based within Ukrainian sovereign territory.”

Mr Reznikov said yesterday: “We talked about the ongoing training of our servicemen on British territory, about the main priorities and importance of this training.

“We had the opportunit­y to shake hands with pilots who trained in Britain and are already successful­ly using the Storm Shadow.”

Mr Wallace announced the extra fire power two weeks ago and made Britain the first western nation to send long-range weapons to President Zelensky’s forces.

It will allow them to strike deep into Russian-held territory and disrupt supply lines before their spring offensive.

Storm Shadow cruise missiles have a range of about 155 miles, so they could hit Moscow-annexed Crimea.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence revealed that more than 1,000 Russian troops have gone absent without leave so far this year.

Putin’s control has broken down since he began recruiting more than 300,000 reservists last October.

He also allowed Russian prisoners to be signed up by theWagner mercenary group.

An MoD briefing said: “Court data suggests most of those found guilty of going AWOL are now punished with suspended sentences, so they can be redeployed.

“Russia’s efforts to improve discipline have focused on making examples of defaulters and promoting patriotic zeal, rather than addressing…disillusio­nment.”

 ?? ?? United…Wallace and Reznikov
United…Wallace and Reznikov

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