UK to send scores of guns drones to Ukraine

The boost comes after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month promised another 1 bn pounds of military support, bringing total UK support to Ukraine since the start of the war, which Russia calls a “special operation”, to 2.3 bn pounds…reports Asian Lite News

Britain will send scores of artillery guns and more than 1,600 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine in the latest supply of Western arms to help bolster the country’s defence against Russia, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Thursday.

The boost comes after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month promised another 1 billion pounds ($1.2 billion) of military support, bringing total UK support to Ukraine since the start of the war, which Russia calls a “special operation”, to 2.3 billion pounds.

“Together with our international partners, we will ensure Ukraine has the tools to defend their country from Putin’s illegal invasion,” Wallace said in a statement.

Wallace said Britain would also provide counter-battery radar systems, hundreds of drones and more than 50,000 rounds of ammunition.

The UK has already supplied Ukraine with a range of military equipment including almost 7,000 anti-tank weapons, hundreds of missiles and armoured fighting vehicles, and has also been training Ukrainian soldiers.

More than 20 M109 155mm self-propelled guns and 36 L119 105mm artillery guns will soon arrive from the UK, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced in an update to Parliament today. Counter-battery radar systems and more than 50,000 rounds of ammunition for Ukraine’s existing Soviet era artillery will also follow, he added.

This equipment will bolster the Armed Forces of Ukraine’s ability to defend itself against Russia’s indiscriminate use of artillery.

The UK will also send more than 1,600 more anti-tank weapons in the coming weeks, along with drones, including hundreds of loitering aerial munitions.

So far 6,900 NLAW, Javelin, Brimstone and other anti-tank weapons, as well as 16,000 artillery rounds, six Stormer vehicles fitted with Starstreak anti-air missile launchers and hundreds of missiles have been sent to Ukraine.

The UK has also supplied maritime Brimstone missiles, multiple launch rocket systems, 120 armoured fighting vehicles and large quantities of non-lethal aid including more than 82,000 helmets, 8,450 sets of body armour and over 5,000 night vision devices.

The next phase of military support, paid for with this additional funding, will include even more sophisticated air defence systems, uncrewed aerial vehicles and innovative new electronic warfare equipment.

It comes after the UK launched a major training operation for Ukrainian forces, with the potential to train up to 10,000 soldiers.

The Defence Secretary recently visited some of the first Ukrainian soldiers taking part in the programme, which is taking place at sites across the North West, South West and South East of the UK.

Russia-Ukraine grain deal to be signed today

Ukraine and Russia are expected to sign a deal Friday to re-open Black Sea ports to exporting grain, raising hopes an international food crisis triggered by Moscow’s invasion could be at an end. Ukraine and Russia – both among the world’s biggest exporters – did not immediately confirm an announcement made by Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan’s office, but Ukraine leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy late last night hinted ports in the area could be unblocked.

The proposed ‘package deal’ – which also includes fertiliser shipments – has been facilitated by Turkey and the United Nations; UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres and Erdogan will be in attendance as the papers are signed in Istanbul.

The signing ceremony is expected at 1.30 pm GMT.

“The grain export agreement, critically important for global food security, will be signed in Istanbul tomorrow under the auspices of President Erdogan and UN secretary general Mr Guterres, together with Ukrainian and Russian delegations,” a spokesperson for the Turkish president tweeted.

This – the first major accord since Russia invaded Ukraine February – is the product of two months’ negotiation led by the UN and Turkey and will be welcome news amid soaring global prices and millions in or near starvation.

The United States has welcomed the deal, but state department spokesperson Ned Price said Washington would focus on Moscow’s follow-through.

Like the US, Ukraine has expressed caution over the deal. Its foreign ministry told Reuters another round of talks would take place today and that only decisions guaranteeing the safety of its southern regions will be backed.

Up to 25 million tonnes of wheat and other grain have been blocked in Ukrainian ports by Russian warships and landmines laid by Kyiv. Russia, meanwhile, had insisted on its right to check all incoming ships for weapons.

Russia previously also demanded the lifting of some sanctions.

Ukraine is still shipping some grain – via rail, road and river routes across European Union neighbours but volumes are well below the normal.

During this grain supply crisis, India has delivered nearly two million tonnes of wheat on request of foreign governments.

This is since the government banned overseas sales in May, a senior official said. More than a dozen countries have requested Indian wheat supply, including Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

In more good news for global markets, Russia on Thursday restored critical gas supplies to Europe through Germany via the Nord Stream pipeline.

This was after 10 days of what Moscow called maintenance work but what European nations feared was the use of energy supplies as a ‘weapon’ to remove sanctions against Russia. The European Union is working towards reducing reliance on Russian energy supplies.

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