Britain announced Monday it will supply an unspecified number of long-range missile launchers to Ukraine, following the United States’ decision last week to send similar weapons. Ukrainian troops will be trained to use the systems in Britain in the coming weeks.
Ukraine has repeatedly asked the West to supply longer-range weapons as it faces an unrelenting barrage of Russian artillery in the eastern Donbas region.
Britain’s Defense Minister Ben Wallace said in a statement Monday: “The U.K. stands with Ukraine in this fight and is taking a leading role in supplying its heroic troops with the vital weapons they need to defend their country from [an] unprovoked invasion.
“As Russia’s tactics change, so must our support to Ukraine. These highly capable multiple-launch rocket systems will enable our Ukrainian friends to better protect themselves against the brutal use of long-range artillery, which [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s forces have used indiscriminately to flatten cities,” Wallace added.
Britain did not say how many M270s it was sending, although the number is small and will be comparable to the US decision to send four Himars. Ukrainian troops will be trained on how to use the launchers in the UK, the MoD added, and Kyiv’s forces will be supplied with the appropriate rockets “at scale”.
The British M270 multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) can fire 12 GPS-guided rockets up to a range of 80 kilometers in under one minute. The decision to send the systems to Ukraine was coordinated with Washington, which announced last week that it is sending similar M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS.
The weapons will give Ukraine an advantage on the battlefield, according to Sidharth Kaushal, an expert on missile systems at Britain’s Royal United Services Institute.
“What MLRS systems like HIMARS and the M270 will do will be to provide the Ukrainians with the range to engage some of the longer-range Russian systems, as well as a precision-guided capability which will enable things like counter-battery fire against long-range Russian assets, as well as the ability to strike Russian targets in-depth more generally.”
Kaushal said the Kremlin’s forces have made incremental advances in recent weeks in the eastern Donbas region.
Western-supplied anti-tank missiles helped drive back Russian armored columns advancing on Kyiv in the early days of the war. Now the nature of the conflict is changing.
“Russia has … shifted the emphasis of the conflict. In Donbas it has emphasized a much slower and more incremental approach to seizing territory in which it methodically prepares the ground with large amounts of artillery fire before its troops advance,” noted Kaushal.
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