The Daily Telegraph

Wallace heads to Pentagon over Kyiv strikes

- By Tony Diver, Danielle Sheridan and Jamie Johnson

BEN WALLACE flew to Washington for an urgent meeting with his US counterpar­t yesterday to discuss Russia’s use of drones to attack Kyiv.

The meeting came ahead of a delivery of new Nato systems to bolster Ukraine’s air defences, after two attacks on the Ukrainian capital in a week killed at least three people.

Ukraine has called for the West to provide it with better defences to stop it being “terrorised” by strikes on civilians using kamikaze drones and missiles. Sources in Tehran told Reuters yesterday that Iran would send more drones and surface-to-surface missiles to Russia, adding to the urgency of calls for more weapons.

Mr Wallace, the Defence Secretary, met Lloyd Austin, the US secretary of state for defence, at the Pentagon after cancelling a planned appearance in front of a committee of MPS.

Brigadier General Patrick Ryder, the US department of defence press secretary, said they had discussed “ongoing support to Ukraine by our two nations, as well as the importance of transatlan­tic and regional security cooperatio­n in light of Russia’s attack in Ukraine”.

Yesterday’s summit was described by one source as a “planning meeting” as they prepared to respond to Russian aggression.

Mr Austin is understood to have requested the pair meet in person following a bilateral meeting at a Nato conference in Brussels last week.

At the conference, it was announced that the West would send more rockets and drones to Ukraine in response to a run of attacks by Russia on Kyiv using missiles and kamikaze drones.

State-of-the-art Amraam rockets pledged by Mr Wallace last week can knock cruise missiles out of the sky, while a fleet of drones will be used by

Ukraine to gather more intelligen­ce from the sky.

Jens Stoltenber­g, the Nato Secretary General, said yesterday that deliveries of the air defence systems would begin in the coming days to counter the threat of drones, including those from Iran.

Ukraine says Russian drone attacks have destroyed almost a third of its power stations, which came in response to a string of setbacks for the Kremlin on the front line in Crimea.

It was speculated by another source close to the discussion­s that the meeting had been held in person because of concerns about the security of communicat­ions between the Pentagon and Ministry of Defence.

But the source also conceded that a physical visit would emphasise friendly relations between Britain and the US to foreign observers.

“It’s a good reminder that the US’S closest security partner is the UK,” they said. “The close cooperatio­n on Ukraine is why this relationsh­ip is so strong.”

Liz Truss has also spoken to Emmanuel Macron, the French president, about what a Downing Street spokesman described as the leaders’ “deep concern at Russia’s recent barbaric attacks on civilian areas in Ukraine”.

It comes as Maj Gen James Martin, the Commander of Britain’s Warfightin­g Division, warned that the proliferat­ion of drones means the West no longer controls the skies in combat.

Maj Gen Martin spoke to The Daily Telegraph in Sennelager, Germany, ahead of Exercise Cerberus, the field Army’s biggest wargaming exercise to take place in Europe in over a decade.

“We don’t assume we have control of air space anymore,” he said.

“We now assume we will have limited windows of opportunit­ies to do what we want to do. That’s the difference between fighting a peer adversary vs fighting a counter insurgency.”

Maj Gen Martin added that the “proliferat­ion” of drones in modern warfare “has almost democratis­ed use of the air and aerial surveillan­ce”, because they are so cheap and available.

Asked if the exercise was sending a message to Russia, Maj Gen Martin said: “We are absolutely demonstrat­ing to our opponents and our allies and partners that we are ready to fight.

“To the former that we have both the will and capability to fight and to the latter that we are committed and in solidarity with them.

“I think a demonstrab­le UK will to use military force on the continent of Europe is one of the critical outputs of Exercise Cerberus.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom