British pledge more military aid for Ukraine
Britain will provide “sophisticated air defense systems,” drones, electronic warfare equipment and “thousands of pieces of vital kit” worth £1 billion ($1.2 billion) to Ukraine amid its conflict with Russia, London announced on Wednesday.
The deliveries will represent the “first step” to allow Ukrainian forces to go beyond their “valiant defense” efforts and move towards “mounting offensive operations” to regain territory lost to Russia, the UK authorities claimed.
“UK weapons, equipment and training are transforming Ukraine's defenses against this onslaught. And we will continue to stand squarely behind the Ukrainian people to ensure Putin fails in Ukraine,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson was quoted as saying in the statement.
The new supplies will bring London’s overall military aid to Kiev to £2.3 billion ($2.8 billion). The UK, which has been one of the strongest backers of Ukraine since the start of the Russian offensive four months ago, has also provided £1.5 billion ($1.8 billion) to the country in economic and humanitarian assistance.
During the NATO summit in Madrid on Wednesday, the US-led military alliance declared Russia a “direct threat” to Western security.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the gathering via video link, demanding more help from member states, including modern weapon systems to “break the Russian artillery advantage.”
He claimed the fighting is costing Kiev around $5 billion every month, and that – unlike Russia – Ukraine does not have oil and gas revenue to cover the deficit.
Moscow has repeatedly warned against supplies of weapons to Ukraine by the US, UK and other allied nations, saying it will only prolong the fighting, while increasing the risk of a direct military confrontation between Russia and the West.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.