Britain plans to supply Ukraine with anti-aircraft missiles – minister


Britain’s Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace walks outside Downing Street in London, Britain February 21, 2022. REUTERS/Tom Nicholson

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LONDON, March 9 (Reuters) – Britain plans to supply Ukraine with anti-aircraft missiles to help it defend its skies against Russian invasion, Defense Minister Ben Wallace said, stressing that this technology fell under the definition of defensive weapons.

“It is vital … that Ukraine maintain its ability to fly and suppress Russian air attacks,” Wallace told lawmakers.

“In response to Ukrainian requests, the government has taken the decision to explore the donation of STARStreak high-velocity man-portable anti-aircraft missiles. We believe that this system will remain within the definition of defensive weapons, but will allow the Ukrainian force to better defend their skies.”

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Wallace said the principle decision had been made to provide the systems, and the government was working out how to get them into Ukraine and train Ukrainian forces to use them.

The STARStreak system is manufactured by Thales.

If confirmed, the supply would mark a milestone in Britain’s support for Ukraine. So far, Ukraine has hailed the British contribution of thousands of anti-tank missiles which helped slow the Russian advance on Kiev.

However, support from Britain was limited to defensive armament.

“Everything we do is tied to the decision to provide defensive systems and is calibrated not to reach a strategic level,” Wallace said.

As a member of the NATO military alliance, Britain has rejected Ukraine’s demands to impose a no-fly zone over the country. Britain says this could mean NATO forces shooting down Russian planes, leading to a significant escalation in the conflict.

A proposed plan to allow Poland to donate fighter jets for use in Ukraine was rejected by the United States on Tuesday. Poland now says that any supply of fighter jets to Ukraine must be done jointly by NATO countries. Read more

Wallace said it was Poland’s business.

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Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, writing by Alistair Smout; edited by William James, Michael Holden and Nick Macfie

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