UK ‘not ruling out’ giving Ukraine missiles to reach Russia

UK Defence Journal

By George Allison

 – January 23, 2023

Britain has “not ruled out” supplying Ukraine with missiles with sufficient range to destroy missile systems in Russia which may be targeting civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.

The answer came to light in response to a written questions ssked by Lord Blencathra.

“To ask His Majesty’s Government whether they have any plans to supply Ukraine with missiles with sufficient range to destroy missile systems in Russia which may be targeting civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.”

“The UK will keep our support to Ukraine under review and has not ruled out the possibility of providing longer range weapons systems to counter Russia’s recent indiscriminate mass targeting of civilian infrastructure.

We have provided Ukraine with military aid on the understanding that it will be used in accordance with international humanitarian law. We liaise on a daily basis with the Ukrainian Government, and they are clear that equipment provided by the UK is intended for the defence of Ukraine.”

What has Britain already given Ukraine?

The UK has provided Ukraine with various forms of military aid since 2015, including training 22,000 troops, sale of minehunters and missile craft, deployment of surveillance aircraft and ISTAR support, provision of anti-armour and anti-tank weapons, and further unspecified lethal aid.

Additionally, the UK has provided helmets, night vision equipment, body armor, electronic warfare equipment, counter battery radar, GPS jammers, drones, heavy lift cargo drones, and Brimstone missiles. The UK also announced £1.3 billion in military support, including £300 million in May, and £1 billion in June. It has also offered to provide training to 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers every four months.

Take a seat, here’s the list.

  • Trained 22,000 Ukrainian troops since 2015 as part of Operation Orbital. This operation was suspended following the full-scale Russian invasion; a new British-led multinational operation commenced on 9 July 2022 as part of Operation Interflex.
  • Sale of two Sandown-class minehunters.
  • £1.7 billion sterling agreement to support the acquisition of eight missile craft and one frigate.
  • Deployment of RC-135W Rivet Joint surveillance aircraft to provide information on size and position of Russian forces.
  • ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance) support, both standalone and in partnership with the United States.
  • Delivered “thousands” of NLAW anti-armour weapons and Javelin anti-tank missiles. The total amount was stated to be over 6,500 as of 3 June 2022.
  • Unspecified further military aid, on 28 February 2022.
  • Unspecified number of Javelin anti-tank missiles, on 10 March 2022.
  • The UK announced a further 6,000 defensive missiles will be sent to Ukraine, on 24 March 2022.
  • Starstreak man-portable air-defence systems.
  • UK announced the supply of an unspecified amount of “armoured vehicles and long-range artillery” to Ukraine, on 31 March 2022, on 9 April a figure of 120 armoured vehicles was given along with an unspecified number of anti-ship missiles. A 14 April interview gave the following partial breakdown:
  • British Army donates 84,000 helmets to Ukraine.
  • UK announced an additional £100 million in military aid, on 8 April. This includes further Starstreak missiles, 800 NLAW, Javelin anti-tank missiles and precision loitering munitions. Further military helmets, night vision equipment and body armour will be provided on top of 200,000 pieces of non-lethal military equipment supplied so far.
  • UK announced further unspecified amount of lethal military aid to Ukraine on 23 April. “The Prime Minister confirmed that the UK is providing more defensive military aid, including protected mobility vehicles, drones and anti-tank weapons.”
  • The UK announced a further £300 million in military aid to Ukraine. Boris Johnson made this announcement in a videolink address to the Rada, on the 3 May.
    • Electronic warfare equipment.
    • Counter battery radar.
    • GPS jammers.
    • ‘Thousands’ of night vision devices.
    • 13 bulletproof Babcock Toyota Land Cruiser for civilian officials such as mayors and evacuation operations.
    • Heavy lift cargo drones.
  • The UK has been supplying an unspecified number of British madeBrimstone missiles into Ukraine.
  • The UK announced a further £1 billion in military support to Ukraine. The total sum was £1.3 billion (US$1.6 billion), however, this included the £300 million that was pledged on 3 May.
  • 30 March, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office provided £20 million to the Ukrainian Armed Forces for salaries through a deposit in the National Bank of Ukraine, followed by a further £5 million on 18 May
  • 6 June, the United Kingdom confirmed it would provide an unspecified number of M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System along with M31A1 ammunition and provide training to the Ukrainian operators in the UK.
  • 16 June, confirmed 20 used M109 howitzer had been bought from a Belgian arms dealer, refurbished and partially delivered to Ukraine.
  • 17 June, the UK offered to set up and administer a program to provide three weeks general infantry, first aid, cyber security, and counter-explosive tactics training to 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers every four months hosted by a neighbouring country. This would better equip Ukraine to replace battlefield casualties.
  • 27 June, from this week, 200 Ukrainian soldiers are set to arrive in the UK every day to receive training from the UK’s Armed Forces, the Chief of the Defence Staff said.
  • 28 June, during the NATO summit in Madrid the UK committed to providing Ukraine a further £1 billion of military support towards the acquisition of “sophisticated” air defence systems, electronic warfare equipment, drones and ammunition for long range rocket artillery.
  • 29 June, The UK facilitated the transfer of 3 Norwegian MLRS systems. The Norwegian systems will need upgrading, so the UK will receive and upgrade the Norwegian MLRS pieces, to backfill upgraded British pieces already being sent to Ukraine.
  • 30 June, The UK revealed it had been training hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers on British Artillery Systems on Salisbury Plain (UK). The UK also stated it had purchased 50 L119 Howitzers from a British company and will be deploying these weapons to Ukraine imminently. The New Zealand Army has deployed personnel who are training Ukrainian soldiers on L119 artillery pieces in the UK (see NZ entry above).
  • On the 21 July British Secretary of Defence, Ben Wallance, announced the UK will send “50,000 artillery shells, counter-battery radar systems and hundreds of drones” and “scores” of artillery guns over the coming weeks along with 1,600 anti-tank weapons.
    • 20 M109 155mm self-propelled guns;
    • 36 L119 105mm artillery guns; and
    • 50,000 of rounds for Ukraine’s Soviet era artillery.
  • 11 August The UK confirmed it was delivering an additional three M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System and M31A1 rockets, the previous day Ukraine had announced that the equipment had been received.
  • 24 August UK announced a £54m package including 850 Black Hornet Nano drones, 200 surveillance drones and ~1000 anti-tank loitering munitions. (See also the Norwegian announcement the same day)
  • 27 August, the British MoD announced it would provide six mine-hunting UUVs to Ukraine along with training Ukrainian naval personnel in their use.
  • 13 October The UK announced further donations;
    • AMRAAM missiles to equip the NASAMS air defence systems supplied by the US.
    • “Hundreds” of additional air defence missiles, of other types previously provided.
    • “Hundreds” of additional aerial drones.
    • 18 howitzer artillery guns on top of the 64 already delivered.
    • £10m donation to the NATO fund for buying non-lethal military aid.
  • 7 November announcement
    • 1,000 Surface-to-air missiles
    • 7,400 Ukrainian soldiers and 60 junior officers have completed British army training as of 7 November, 1,900 in training.
    • Over 9,000 troops passing through training issued helmet, body armour, webbing and first aid kit to retain on completion.
    • Troops passing out of training from now on will be issued cold weather gear including 25,000 sets of winter clothing, 20,000 sleeping bags and roll mats and 150 heated tents.
  • On 19 November during a visit to Kyiv new UK PM Rishi Sunak announced a £50 million package of 125 anti-aircraft guns, radars and anti-drone equipment.”
  • On 23 November Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced Britain was donating three Westland Sea King helicopters for Search and Rescue around Kherson (speculated to be in an Anti-submarine warfare configuration) with the first already delivered and 10 Ukrainian crews had been training on them during the last six weeks, in addition a further 10,000 artillery rounds were provided.
  • On 15 January 2023 UK PM Rishi Sunak announced the UK would be sending Ukraine Challenger 2 tanks and AS90 155mm self-propelled Howitzers. More detail followed in Ben Wallace statement to Parliament on 16 January.
    • 14 Challenger 2 tanks as well as armoured recovery and repair vehicles
    • 30 AS90 155mm self-propelled Howitzers
    • Hundreds more armoured and protected vehicles including FV430 Bulldog
    • A manoeuvre support package, including minefield breaching and bridging capabilities worth £28 million
    • Dozens more uncrewed aerial systems worth £20 million to support Ukrainian artillery.
    • A further 100,000 artillery rounds
    • Hundreds more missiles including GMLRS rockets, Starstreak missiles, and medium range air defence missiles
    • Spare parts to refurbish 100 Ukrainian tanks and IFV’s
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George Allison

George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also works for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison


  1. Selected comments from readers :

    Joe 16”
    “That’s a weird question, and answer.
As far as I’m aware, the miisile attacks “from Russia” are being almost completely prosecuted by strategic aircraft, they’re not ground launched. The only things surface launched are from vessels of the Black Sea fleet. If there are any ground launches from Russia, they’ll almost certainly be from mobile TELs which will be difficult to pinpoint at range.
So, are we suggesting that we’ll give Ukraine the capability to target Russia’s strategic bomber fleet, on the ground or in the air? They’re part of Russia’s nuclear deterrent, so it wouldn’t be dissimilar from them trying to take out our SSBNs- it’s a very different escalation from giving them euqipment to kill tanks.
Or maybe longer range AShMs, to go after the surface fleet. But we don’t have any, unless we’ll pay for them to get some NSM batteries or something.
As for the TELs, I could see that. But the kill chain will be the challenge there, I think. NATO AWACs stay in Romanian airspace, so I don’t believe they can see all that far into Russia, unlikely far enough to be able to see where ground launched cruise/balllistic missiles were launched from with enough accuracy to give a firing solution.
I don’t doubt Ukraine has a right to go after the launch systems, just wondering how that’ll work…

    “I think you can spot the launch, yes, but it relies on you having a satellite in the right place at the right time, and there being clear skies. I remember reading something about being about to spot North Korean ones, so I assume it works the same for Russians!”

    George Parker:
    “Weird indeed, sounds like a preplanned question to get a statement in Hansard. It certainly would take us on a journey down the rabbit hole. If NATO supply Ukraine with weapons that can strike Russian nuclear deterrent along with targeting data. The very type of escalation the world can do without.
Is the launch signature of TELs detectable from space.”

    Reply to  Joe16
    “Whilst the Stormshadow gives a longer range when air launched this is a similar scenario to the US providing the ATACMS long range MLRS missile. The Russians reacted strongly to that suggestion, I expect that they will do the same in this case.
    In the interests of keeping this war contained to Ukraine, it is possible that the Russians told the US what their response would be. We do know that the US has made no move to supply any to the UA.
    I suspect that were any Stormshadows to be supplied the targets selected by the UA would likely be military in Crimea or the Rostok area, rather than poke the bear with attacks on Russian strategic weapons sites.”

    Reply to  JohninMK
    ‘Why? it’s not a Bear, not at all, in fact it would seem it never has been. Putin has shown it to be a piss stained, straggly, shit encrusted alley cat which has just been injured by a car. And the West will provide whatever kit is needed to kill rapist orcs and to degrade the piss stained alley cats remaining military capability. Like it or not, admit it or not, Putin has made the biggest mistake in his sad life, and has given the West the threat needed to pull together, increase defence budgets and degrade the rather over egged military capability of the Russian piss stained alley cat. Glad you agree, well done.”

    Lots more comments can be seen by clicking the original article:

  2. “Airborne” has a fine turn of phrase :

    “Putin has shown it to be a piss stained, straggly, shit encrusted alley cat which has just been injured by a car. And the West will provide whatever kit is needed to kill rapist orcs and to degrade the piss stained alley cats remaining military capability.”

    Excellent! Probably ex-RAF or currently serving.

    • Piss stained is right, but don’t downgrade cats. 😉 They are too smart to be compared to the filthy, dumbass cockroach.

    • I’m afraid you’re right Sir Facts. Ukraine needs a definite victory. I’m afraid that will only come when we can stop all his missiles. You know what that requires and its massive. The other scenario is putin uses a nuke and the world agrees to destroy every base and every mortar in Moskovia. That is even more massive.
      I’m just worried every fucking orc could leave and we still have missiles every other day. We will certainly need long distance missiles to take out ships and bases and we will still need dozens of Patriot batteries too.

What is your opinion?