Scottish Daily Mail

Britain’s failing to back Ukraine with arms, says Labour

- By Mark Nicol Defence Editor

LABOUR accused the Government yesterday of failing to meet pledges to provide arms to Ukraine.

It came as Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told Parliament the UK had become the first country to provide long-range precision missiles to Ukraine.

The Storm Shadow cruise missiles, accurate to beyond 150 miles, will play a key role in the country’s much-anticipate­d counter-offensive against Russian occupiers.

But his statement to the House of Commons was overshadow­ed by his Labour opposite number John Healey who challenged Mr Wallace on the reality of aid deliveries.

President Zelensky confirmed yesterday that the brakes have been put on Ukraine’s fight-back because of shortages of vital military equipment, including armoured vehicles.

Concerns were raised in the Commons that military aid pledged by Britain has taken too long to reach the frontline.

Mr Wallace was asked how many of the armoured vehicles promised by the UK have arrived in Ukraine. He was also challenged over why the Britishled Internatio­nal Fund for Ukraine, set up in August 2022, is yet to provide Kyiv with any weapons.

Mr Healey was critical of the time it has taken for military aid to reach the battlefiel­d.

He said: ‘Six months ago the Defence Secretary said he was “open minded” to sending longer range missiles. And it was three months ago when the Prime Minister announced the UK would be the first country to do so. Why has it taken so long? Ukraine needs military aid on the frontline now.

‘President Zelensky has said “not everything has arrived yet”. Russia is far from a spent force. I am proud of British leadership on Ukraine over the last year. In six months’ time I still want to be able to say the same.’

The IFU, run by the UK and six other European countries, has been plagued by delays and bureaucrac­y. Since its inception, it has only agreed three contracts with defence manufactur­ers to supply Ukraine. As yet, none of it has arrived.

Storm Shadow was designed to be fired from Royal Air Force jets such as the Typhoon. But over recent months engineers have been adapting it so it can be launched from Ukrainian MiG-29s. These modificati­ons took longer than expected, delaying the deployment. The air-launched missiles, costing £2million each, fly at low altitude to avoid detection. Ukraine has assured Britain they will not be fired into Russia.

Given its ‘bunker-busting’ capability, targets are expected to include subterrane­an Russian command centres.

Today’s announceme­nt of new weapons is the first by the UK Government since February. Mr Wallace said the donation of Storm Shadow was another first for Britain because it was also the first country to donate tanks to Ukraine.

Mr Wallace told the House: ‘The donation of these weapons systems gives Ukraine the best chance to defend themselves against Russia’s continued brutality. We simply will not stand by while Russia kills civilians. Unfortunat­ely Russia has continued down this dark path. That is why the Prime Minister and I have taken the decision to provide longer range capabiliti­es.’

Mr Wallace’s announceme­nt came after President Zelensky explained why Ukraine’s counter-offensive had been delayed.

In a TV interview he said his forces ‘still need a bit more time’ because military equipment, such as armoured vehicles, were still arriving. His admission came after he pleaded with the EU yesterday to speed up its delivery of artillery shells.

Vladimir Putin is said to be slowing down Russia’s military operations as he waits for the West to lose interest in the war.

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