The UK’s new Defence Secretary has pledged to step up the UK’s support for Ukraine on a visit to Odesa, less than 48 hours after his appointment.

Following a meeting with President Zelenskyy and discussions with his counterpart Defence Minister Rustem Umerov, Mr Healey announced that the UK would provide a new package of support to the country, including more artillery guns, a quarter of a million ammunition rounds and nearly 100 precision Brimstone missiles.

The Defence Secretary also pledged to fast-track military support committed for Ukraine in April to arrive within the next 100 days.

During the visit, which coincided with Ukrainian celebrations of their annual navy day, the Defence Secretary confirmed that Britain’s steadfast commitment to Ukraine will be reinvigorated by the new government in Westminster.

Defence Secretary John Healey said:

There may have been a change in government, but the UK is united for Ukraine.

As the new Defence Secretary, I will ensure that we reinvigorate Britain’s support by stepping up supplies of vital military aid.

Our commitment to stand with the Ukrainian people is absolute, as is our resolve to confront Russian aggression and pursue Putin for his war crimes.

This government is steadfast in our commitment to continue supplying military assistance and will stand shoulder to shoulder with our Ukrainian friends for as long as it takes.

Upon taking office the Defence Secretary immediately asked for extra support to be provided to Ukraine which was readily available and meets their needs for the battlefield against Russia.

This new package includes:

  • A quarter of a million of 50 calibre ammunition

  • 90 anti-armour Brimstone missiles

  • 50 small military boats to support river and coastal operations

  • 40 de-mining vehicles

  • 10 AS-90 artillery guns

  • 61 bulldozers to help build defensive positions

  • Support for previously gifted AS-90s, including 32 new barrels and critical spares which will help Ukraine fire another 60,000 155mm rounds

John Healey also directed officials to ensure that the promised package in April of military aid is accelerated and delivered in full to Ukraine within the next 100 days.

The UK announced in April this year the largest ever military aid package to Ukraine, including 400 vehicles, 1600 strike and air defence missiles, including additional Storm Shadow long-range precision guided-missiles, four million rounds of ammunition and 60 boats, including off-shore raiding craft.

Having provided more than £7.6 billion of military support since Ukraine unprovoked invasion, the UK will continue to work with allies and partners to provide Ukraine with the equipment and weapons they need to win the war.

The support provided by the UK so far has proved pivotal in supporting Ukraine’s ability to defend itself since the war started, having been the first country to provide modern, Western battle tanks, as well as long-range precision guided missiles.

More than 42,000 Ukrainian soldiers have also returned to fight in Ukraine after completing basic training in the UK since June 2022, under Operation Interflex.

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, Chief of the Defence Staff, said:

The recent milestone of 500,000 Russians killed or wounded is a reminder of how badly this war has gone for Russia. Over the past year, with British help, Ukraine has driven the Russian fleet from Crimea and reopened the Black Sea for exports.

The battle on land is much tougher, but Ukraine’s future as a sovereign nation is not in doubt.

A free and democratic Ukraine, full of promise and hope, stands in jarring contrast to Russia’s trajectory of contraction and decline, and an increasingly authoritarian future under Putin.

By continuing to support Ukraine, and by helping to ensure Russia loses, Britain and Europe will be stronger and safer over the long term.

Further military support for Ukraine in the longer term is being provided through international capability coalitions, of which the UK is co-leading the maritime coalition alongside Norway, and Drone coalition with Latvia.

The drone coalition has rapidly deployed thousands of drones to support Ukraine whilst also boosting the UK defence industry – with more than £50 million pledged so far to fund the coalition.

Training and equipment provided to Ukraine’s naval forces have proved invaluable in degrading and containing Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, allowing Ukraine to restore its vital grain exports to pre-war levels.

Published 7 July 2024