UK Sends Storm Shadow Long-Range Cruise Missiles To Ukraine
For the first time since the war's start, United Kingdom is donating long-range cruise missiles to Ukraine in order to fight the Russians.
"I can confirm that the UK is donating Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine," Defence Secretary Ben Wallace informed Parliament Thursday. The missiles were touted as a weapon that will enable the Ukrainians to gain back occupied territory.
"The use of Storm Shadow will allow Ukraine to push back Russian forces based within Ukrainian sovereign territory," Wallace said.
UK officials say the timing is intended to be connected to Ukraine's upcoming counteroffensive, which many have said was already expected to have started but hasn't.
Crucially the Storm Shadow's range is significantly further than the US-supplied HIMARS. The UK manufacturer touts a range of over 250km (155 miles). By comparison the HIMARS currently in use by Ukraine have a range of 80 km (50 miles), according to common estimates.
According to a BBC description of the Storm Shadow missiles:
They are fired from aircraft, so the longer range means Ukrainian pilots will be able to stay further from the frontlines.
Once launched, the Storm Shadow drops to low altitude to avoid detection by enemy radar, before latching onto its target with an infra-red seeker.
Wallace in his remarks before parliament said that the British government made the decision after Moscow "continued down a dark path" of targeting civilian infrastructure across Ukraine. Starting this month, Russian forces have significantly upped their airstrikes, this after large-scale aerial attacks hadn't been seen in the prior two months.
"The donation of these missile systems gives Ukraine the best chance of defending themselves against Russia's brutality," Wallace told MPs further, while also confirming they are already being transferred and some may already be in possession of Kyiv.
US officials say they are "breathing a quiet sigh of relief" over London's decision, Politico reported earlier in the week. Given the significant range of these aircraft-fired cruise missiles, is this a sign that more attacks on Russian territory are coming?