Boris Johnson announces extra military support to Ukraine, including ‘lethal aid’

PM says action comes ‘in light of increasingly threatening behaviour from Russia’

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 23 February 2022 12:42 GMT
Boris Johnson announces extra military support to Ukraine

Boris Johnson has announced an extra package of military support to Ukraine in the face of Russia’s increasingly “threatening behaviour”.

It comes after the Eastern European country declared a 30-day state of emergency following the Kremlin’s incendiary decision to recognise the independence of two separatist-controlled territories and said it was deploying troops.

The prime minister yesterday described the actions as an “invasion” of a sovereign country and imposed a series of sanctions of Russian banks and three oligarchs linked to the Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Updating MPs at prime minister’s questions, Mr Johnson said: “In light of the increasingly threatening behaviour from Russia, and in line with our previous support, the UK will shortly be providing a further package of military support to Ukraine.

He added: “This will include lethal aid in the form of defensive weapons and non-lethal aid”.

The government has previously ruled out sending British soldiers to the region, but has previously sent elite troops to help train Ukraine forces and anti-tank weapons to the country’s government.

Last month, a shipment of 200,000 pounds “lethal aid”, including ammunition for frontline defenders, also arrived in Ukraine from the United States.

This infographic, created for The Independent by statistics agency Statista, shows the relative military strength of Ukraine and Russia

The announcement of further military aid to the region follows the unveiling of the government’s initial tranche of sanctions against the Kremlin, with Mr Johnson insisting the the Russian president was bent on a “full-scale invasion” of Ukraine.

However, the sanctions were labelled “tepid” by a leading Kremlin critic Bill Browder, the financier behind the Magnitsky Act targeting Russian human rights abusers, and unlikely to deter Mr Putin from further aggression against the Eastern European country.

During prime minister’s questions, Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, also pressed Mr Johnson to impose further sanctions on Moscow.

“There has already been an invasion,” he insisted. “There is clearly concern across the House that his strategy, I accept unintentionally, could send the wrong message.

“So, if the prime minister brings forward his full package of sanctions including excluding Russians from financial mechanisms like SWITCH and a ban on trading in Russian sovereign debt, he will have the full support of the House. Will he do so?”

Boris Johnson replied: “What we want to see is de-escalation by Vladimir Putin. There is still hope that he will see sense, but we are ready very rapidly to escalate our sanctions as I have set out.”

The prime minister also insisted that “any Russian entity, any Russian individual” and members of the Russian parliament could now be targeted by UK sanctions if needed.

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