UK to announce new Ukraine aid package
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce a new multi-million-pound military aid package to Ukraine as the country continues to battle Russian forces, Downing Street said late Sunday.
Johnson is set to become the first world leader to address the Ukrainian parliament since the launch of Russia’s military attack in February. In a speech which he will deliver via live videolink on Tuesday, the prime minister will stress that the UK is “proud to be among Ukraine’s friends.”
According to a press release from the prime minister’s office, Johnson will provide details on the aid package, worth £300 million (almost $376 million), “to support Ukraine’s ongoing defence against Russia’s illegal invasion.”
The package includes electronic warfare equipment, a counter battery radar system, GPS jamming equipment, and thousands of night vision devices, the prime minister’s office said.
The UK will also fulfill a request from the Ukrainian government by sending “more than a dozen” specialized Toyota Land Cruisers “to help protect civilian officials in Eastern Ukraine and evacuate civilians from frontline areas,” as well as heavy lift UAV systems to provide logistical support to isolated forces.
Johnson is expected to call the current conflict “an epic chapter” in Ukraine’s history which will be “remembered and recounted for generations to come.”
“Your children and grandchildren will say that Ukrainians taught the world that the brute force of an aggressor counts for nothing against the moral force of a people determined to be free,” he will say, according to excerpts of the speech released by Downing Street.
Last week, UK Defence Minister Ben Wallace told MPs that UK military aid to Ukraine was likely to rise to £500 million, having already surpassed the £200-million mark.
He also revealed that “the race is on to equip Ukraine with the same long-range capability that Russia has so they are not outranged and indeed pinned down.”
That statement came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Western countries had finally begun to provide Kiev with the weapons it had requested.
Britain is one of the biggest European suppliers of weapons to Ukraine. According to Defence Ministry figures, London has already sent more than 5,000 anti-tank missiles, 1,360 anti-structure munitions, five air-defense systems with more than 100 missiles, and 4.5 tonnes of plastic explosives.
The UK has also committed nearly £400 million of aid for economic and humanitarian support, which includes a £220 million package for aid agencies on the ground, according to the Foreign Office.
Meanwhile, Moscow has repeatedly warned the West against “pumping up” Ukraine with weapons, arguing that it will only prolong the conflict. Moscow has also made it clear that it considers any foreign weapons on Ukrainian territory as a legitimate target.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.