Putin threatens ‘military response’ to UK over Storm Shadow supplies to Ukraine
Vladimir Putin has issued a veiled threat to the West after the British decision to supply long-range missiles to Ukraine was announced today.
A Kremlin spokesman confirmed he’d responsed “quite negatively” as he warned of an “appropriate military response”.
The threat came hours after Ben Wallace announced the supply of Storm Shadow missiles to Kyiv, increasing the maximum distance from which Ukraine can strike Russian positions by more than 100 miles.
It prompted Russia’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov to warn reporters a military retaliation was essential.
Russian state media sites played down the influence the British long-range missiles could have on the conflict, claiming they would “not drastically affect the course of hostilities.”
Britain’s supply of long-range Storm Shadow missiles represents a U-turn as up to now, Western allies had refused to provide Ukraine with long-range weapons that threaten positions within Russia.
Powered by a turbo-jet engine, the 1,300kg Storm Shadow missile travels at speeds of more than 600 mph, is just over five metres long and has a wingspan of three metres. Its manufacturer, MBDA, claims it has a range of 155 miles, 105 miles further than the US-supplied HIMARS currently in Ukraine.
Britain received assurances from the Ukrainian government these missiles will not be used to strike within Russia, according to multiple senior Western officials, but the artillery will allow the defending forces to strike logistics hubs and military bases deep inside the occupied regions from a safer distance with devastating effect.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday after Mr Wallace’s announcement, Peskov said: “It will demand an appropriate response from our military, who will definitely make the decisions that are required in military terms.” He added that Putin and the Kremlin had reacted “quite negatively” to the news.
Questioning the availability of Ukrainian aircraft capable of carrying the long-range missiles, Russian media site Readovk wrote on Telegram: “There are probably not as many of [the Storm Shadows] as there are crews for the [Su-24] aircraft themselves.
“One way or another, the supply of Storm Shadow will not drastically affect the course of hostilities.”
During Thursday announcement, Mr Wallace pointedly said the supply of the Storm Shadow’s was retaliatory.
He described the actions of Russia which “led to such systems being provided” and added: “This is a calibrated and proportionate response to Russia’s escalations.”
He added that MPs should recognise that Storm Shadow missiles “are not even in the same league” as some of the long-range weapons Russia has used to devastate populated areas across Ukraine hundreds of miles from the frontlines in Donbas.
He also said the United States “had been incredibly supportive of the United Kingdom’s decision” to supply the missiles. It was the US, last June, that roughly doubled the range of the weaponry available to Kyiv when they supplied the first HIMARS missiles, which can strike targets up to 50 miles away.
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Mr Wallace said the missiles to be supplied is “currently enough to satisfy the Ukrainian demand for that capability.”
He also refrained from revealing at exactly what stage of transit the missiles were in but said they were “now going into or are in [Ukraine] itself.”
He added: “The donation of these weapons systems gives Ukraine the best chance to defend themselves against Russia’s continued brutality, especially the deliberate targeting of Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, which is against international law. Ukraine has a right to be able to defend itself against this.”
And he warned: “Try as they might, the Kremlin cannot hide the fact that their invasion is already failing. They can only occupy the rubble left by their destruction.”
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