UK First Country to Send Longer Range Cruise Missiles to Ukraine, Says They Aren’t for Striking Russia

A member of the military walks past a MBDA Storm Shadow/Scalp missile at the Farnborough A
Getty Images

UK reveals “calibrated and proportionate response to Russia’s escalations” with a donation of long-range cruise missiles, Russia threatens “appropriate” military response.

The United Kingdom has donated an unspecified number of longer-range stealth cruise missiles to Ukraine, saying these were for the purpose of pushing back “Russian forces based within Ukrainian sovereign territory”.

The confirmation by defence minister Ben Wallace came after claims in CNN earlier in the day that the MBDA-developed missiles had already been delivered.

Storm Shadow/Scalp EG cruise missiles at the opening of the five-day Dubai Air Show in Dubai 20 November 2005. / RABIH MOGHRABI/AFP via Getty Images

In the official announcement, the UK government through Wallace made clear the cruise missiles could not be nuclear-tipped and were for defensive use. While saying the donation gave Ukraine new military capabilities, he also played down the implications of the new weapons system — likely pre-empting Russian claims of escalation — pointing out that a variety of Russian and Iranian weapons already in theatre had considerably longer range compared to the roughly 150-mile Storm Shadow.

Saying the new Anglo-French long-range missiles going to Ukraine were a “calibrated and proportionate response to Russia’s escalations” and that “Russia must recognise that their actions alone have led to such systems being provided”, Wallace told the Commons:

Today I can confirm the UK is donating Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine. Storm Shadow is a long-range, conventional-only, precision-strike capability… the donation of these weapon systems gives Ukraine the best chances to defend themselves against Russia’s continued brutality, especially the deliberate targeting of Ukrainian civilian infrastructure which is against international law. Ukraine has the right to be able to defend itself against this.

The use of Storm Shadow will allow Ukraine to push back Russian forces based within Ukrainian sovereign territory… While these weapons will give Ukraine new capability, members should recognise these systems are not even in the same league as the Russian AS24 ‘Killjoy’ Hypersonic missile, or Shahed Iranian one-way attack drones, or even the Kalibir cruise missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers, roughly seven times that of a Storm Shadow missile.

Russia must recognise that their actions alone have led to such systems being provided to Ukraine. It is my judgement as Defence Secretary that this is a calibrated and proportionate response to Russia’s escalations.

The delivery follows the UK’s announcement in February that it intended to be the first to give Ukraine “longer-range weapons”.

Russia, for their part, has reacted with anger at the news. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, per Russia’s state media service that the Kremlin viewed the donation “quite negatively” and that “It will demand an appropriate response from our military who will definitely make the decisions that are required in military terms”.

Ukraine themselves praised the “first” of the United Kingdom supplying cruise missiles before any other allied country. They said per their state news wires service: “It is important that Storm Shadow boasts of a sufficient operational range, being capable of striking deep into the Russian-captured territory of Ukraine” and said the announcement came “on the eve of the highly anticipated counteroffensive against the Russian forces.”

President Zelensky warned Russia as the Storm Shadow news broke that they could expect an “unpleasant surprise” shortly. Speaking of the counteroffensive, the Ukrainian leader said: “I think we will achieve the appropriate result”.

This is not the first instance of the United Kingdom leading the pack on supplying ever-more advanced weaponry to Ukraine. The country was the first to say it was giving main battle tanks to Ukraine, apparently paving the way for several other countries which followed quickly behind, all apparently unwilling to be the first.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.