According to reports, the UK-supplied Brimstone missiles have pushed back Russian ships by about 60 miles (100km). The Black Sea has become a focal point of the conflict, with the Kremlin jostling to block access to Ukrainian ports in the region to deter foreign military supplies and disrupt international food exports from Ukraine.
The presence of British-supplied anti-ship missiles has forced Putin to change his tactics to maintain control over Ukraine’s southern coastline.
A Ukrainian Ministry of Defence statement on the popular social messaging application Telegram read: “As a result of our active actions aimed at defeating enemy naval forces, the group of ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet was pushed back from the Ukrainian shores at a distance of more than a hundred kilometres (62 miles).”
With Russian vessels on the retreat, Moscow has turned to coastal missile systems to reassert control of the waterway choke point.
The RAF is sending Kyiv supplies of its latest laser-guided rocket, which can travel at double the range of the previous model.
Britain has sent Ukraine an advanced model of the laser-guided Brimstone missile with double the range of the previous design.
Footage has emerged of supplies of Brimstone 2 missiles being delivered by the Royal Air Force to help Ukraine push back Russian forces.
Ukrainian troops have modified trucks to serve as mobile launch platforms to destroy Russian tanks and other vehicles from long range. The missiles are usually launched from the air.
The missiles and similar anti-tank weapons sent by Ukraine’s other Western allies would have been central in blunting Moscow’s military advance in recent months.
Britain first gave Brimstone missiles to Ukraine about six months ago. However, a video released last month by the British Forces Broadcasting Service showed the more advanced version being prepared for transportation at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire.
The missiles, which each cost about £175,000, can hit targets by tracking a laser fired by troops, aircraft or vehicles, or select its own target from a pre-programmed list through a highly high-frequency millimetric wave radar.
This system allows the weapon to scan the battlefield and select the most appropriate target, discounting civilian vehicles or less critical military equipment.
Brimstone can be used in built-up areas with great precision when guided by a laser fired by friendly troops, limiting the potential for collateral damage among the civilian population.
The first version of Brimstone entered RAF service in 2005. It was upgraded in 2008, so it could be guided by laser. Brimstone 2, the next improved model, entered service in 2016.
With a range launched from a jet of roughly 37 miles, and a 6.3kg (13.9lbs) warhead, Brimstone 2 is designed primarily to hit ground targets, including moving vehicles.
However, a maritime version of the weapon has been developed, specifically designed to hit fast attack craft such as speed boats. It is very similar to earlier variants but has to compensate for the radar and laser “scatter” that can occur when operating over water.
Trials were conducted in 2013 of Sea Spear fired against a simulated attack formation of five targets, one of which was a 15-metre craft travelling at 20 knots.
The successful trial demonstrated the missile’s ability to strike numerous individual targets at sea.
On a visit to Kyiv at the weekend, Rishi Sunak announced another military aid package of £50 million would be sent to Ukraine.
Brimstone was not thought to be part of that package, which focused instead on the provision of air defence weapons and ammunition to counter the threat from Iranian-supplied Shahed-136 drones.
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