Britain will reportedly soon send armoured missile launchers to Ukraine after Russia started its full-scale offensive to take control of the country’s east.
The Ministry of Defence demonstrated the Stormer High Velocity Missile (HVM) launcher for Ukrainians on Salisbury Plain two weeks ago, according to The Sun, with the paper adding the 13-tonne vehicles can be flown to the war on C-17 transport planes in days.
The Stormer is manufactured by BAE Systems, needs just three people to operate it and and uses Starstreak missiles, which can be used to take down low-flying aircraft.
It comes as Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky said a “significant part of the entire Russian army” was concentrated on an offensive in the east in the mostly-Russian speaking Donbas, where Moscow-backed separatists have declared two independent republics that have been recognised by Russia.
Mr Zelensky has been pleading for Western powers to give him greater firepower to fight back, with Boris Johnson saying on April 7 that he was “certainly looking at what more military assistance we can give” amid reports the UK could send armoured vehicles.
On the same date, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the UK was “stepping up” the supply of arms, as she joined Nato counterparts in Brussels to hear the demands from Ukraine for more equipment.
US President Joe Biden on Wednesday approved 800 million dollars (£610m) in military assistance for Ukraine, including artillery and helicopters, to bolster its defences against the expected Russian offensive in the country’s east.
Mr Johnson spoke to Mr Zelensky on Saturday afternoon, with a Downing Street spokesperson saying: “The Prime Minister paid tribute to the bravery of Ukrainian forces who continue to valiantly defend their country’s freedom.”
Russia on Monday bombarded the western city of Lviv, where at least seven people were killed, and numerous other targets across Ukraine in what appeared to be an intensified bid to grind down the country’s defences.
Meanwhile, Government figures show around 16,400 people had arrived in the UK under Ukraine visa schemes by last Monday.
About 13,200 had arrived under the Ukraine family scheme and 3,200 under the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme, provisional data shows.