Britain will provide Ukraine with some powerful missiles for the first time to defend against Russian air strikes, but the country will not provide the weapons to launch them.
Instead, AMRAAM missiles – capable of shooting down cruise missiles – will help equip air defense systems that will be issued to Ukraine of the United States.
Shortages of these systems mean that Western allies, meeting this week in Brussels, are struggling to meet increasingly pressing demands from the Kyiv government to protect Ukraine’s skies from threats. Russian drone and missile attacks.
When asked by Sky News if the West did not provide Ukraine with many of these much-needed air defense systems faster than a lack of political will or a lack of supplies, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin gave only half. answer.
“It is certainly not a matter of lack of will,” he said Wednesday at NATO headquarters in Brussels, speaking after chairing a contact group of NATO allies and other partners who have come together to commit military assistance to Ukraine.
“The commitment and determination that the president [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mike Milley] and I witnessed in this contact group meeting today that was inspiring, and that’s what I told the members of the group. They remain committed to doing everything they can to create additional capabilities. “
However, a senior diplomat told Sky News that the lack of supply of air defense systems was the main factor limiting the allies’ ability to meet Ukraine’s needs.
The UK and other NATO members cut defense spending, downsized their armed forces and reduced their stockpiles of weapons after the end of the Cold War.
Russia’s belated invasion of Ukraine has prompted them to rethink funding their collective security, but it takes time to replenish stockpiles.
British anti-aircraft missiles, believed to be in double-digit numbers, will arrive in Ukraine in the coming weeks.
“Russia’s latest indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas in Ukraine ensure further support for those seeking to defend their homeland,” Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said on Thursday. a statement from the Department of Defense.
“So today I authorized the delivery of AMRAAM anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine.
“These weapons will help Ukraine defend its skies from attacks and enhance its overall missile defense along with the US NASAMS.”
Washington has committed to sending a total of eight National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) to Ukraine, of which the first two are expected to be delivered soon and the remaining six are scheduled to take longer. .
Germany has also delivered an air defense system, with three more due to enter service next year.
In addition to the new missiles, the UK will also donate hundreds of more low-power anti-aircraft missiles as well as hundreds of drones and 18 more howitzers.
The announcement came as NATO defense ministers met for a second day in Brussels on Thursday, although Mr Wallace was not present at Wednesday’s meeting.
They are expected to discuss how to rebuild their own weapons stockpiles and work together to arm their security and continue supporting Ukraine in the long term.