David Cameron says Ukraine has right to strike inside Russia with British weapons

‘It is their decision about how to use these weapons,’ foreign secretary says

Arpan Rai
Friday 03 May 2024 16:14 BST
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David Cameron says Ukraine can win war if armed with ‘what they need’

David Cameron said Ukraine “absolutely has the right” to conduct attacks inside Russia with British weapons as he made his second visit to Kyiv since becoming foreign secretary.

Lord Cameron said it was up to Kyiv to decide how to use the ammunition supplied by Britain.

“In terms of what the Ukrainians do, in our view, it is their decision about how to use these weapons, they are defending their country, they were illegally invaded by Vladimir Putin and they must take those steps,” he said.

“We don’t discuss any caveats that we put on those things. But let’s be absolutely clear, Russia has launched an attack into Ukraine and Ukraine absolutely has the right to strike back at Russia.”

Asked if Ukraine could strike targets inside Russia, Lord Cameron said the decision rested with Ukraine.

Foreign secretary David Cameron meets Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv’s presidential office on Friday
Foreign secretary David Cameron meets Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv’s presidential office on Friday (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/PA)

“Just as Russia is striking inside Ukraine, you can quite understand why Ukraine feels the need to make sure it’s defending itself, it’s getting the Russians out of its country and it has the ability to strike back,” he said.

Lord Cameron’s visit to Kyiv came shortly after prime minister Rishi Sunak announced Britain’s decision to give at least £3bn in military support to Ukraine this year.

Mr Sunak announced the decision while revealing the Tory government’s plan to spend 2.5 per cent of GDP on defence by the end of the decade. He described the proposed spending increase as the “biggest strengthening of our national defence for a generation”.

The foreign secretary separately confirmed a £36m package in energy support to Ukraine. The package includes £20m in new emergency funding following Russian attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

In its latest tranche of weapons for the Volodymyr Zelenskyy regime, Britain has included precision-guided bombs, missiles and equipment for 100 mobile air defence teams to “enable Ukraine to shoot down Russia’s drones and missiles”.

“Ukraine is fiercely defending itself against Russia’s illegal invasion, making a war Putin thought would last days, take years. But this war is the challenge of our generation and Ukraine cannot fight it alone,” the foreign secretary said in Kyiv.

Lord Cameron added that Ukraine’s allies “must all step up to ensure Ukraine has what it needs to win”.

David Cameron speaks to reporters near the British embassy in Kyiv
David Cameron speaks to reporters near the British embassy in Kyiv (Getty)

“Through our multi-year military funding, weapons provision and vital support to protect and repair Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, the UK is standing with Ukraine and we will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” he said.

In his meeting with President Zelensky, the foreign secretary reiterated the UK’s “unequivocal support” to Kyiv, the Foreign Office said.

On the battlefield, Ukraine is increasingly on the back foot as the Russian military has ramped up its offensive this spring. Shortage of men and ammunition is forcing outnumbered Ukrainian soldiers to pull back from one village after another, with as many as three being surrendered on Sunday.

A senior Ukrainian military official said on Thursday that the situation on the front line in eastern Ukraine was worsening but claimed that local defenders were holding firm against a concerted push by the Russian military.

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