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Ukraine will receive Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles from the United Kingdom

As Russian soldiers press in on Kyiv from the east, Britain is to supply Starstreak anti-aircraft weapons and “a limited shipment” of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, according to the defence secretary.

Ben Wallace informed the Commons that the UK would continue to deliver NLAW short-range anti-tank weaponry and that Ukraine has now received 3,615 of the portable missile systems, roughly double the 2,000 previously revealed.

As Russian forces attempted to encircle Kyiv, Wallace said Ukraine had previously received “900 man-portable anti-air missiles” – a reference to Stingers given by other Nato countries – but was desperately seeking more armaments.

“The capability needs strengthening,” Wallace said. “So in response to Ukrainian requests, the government has taken a decision to explore the donation of Starstreak high-velocity man-portable anti-air missiles.”

Later, in response to questions from MPs as to how long the supply decision would take, Wallace said: “We are in principle going to do it.” He acknowledged Ukrainian soldiers would need to be trained in how to use the missiles. “How we are doing it [training] is sensitive,” he added.

The Starstreak is the British army’s version of the more well-known US-made Stinger ground-to-air missiles, which have been delivered to Ukraine by the US, Germany, and the Netherlands, among others, since Russia’s invasion. They are laser-guided and have a range of 7 kilometres (as opposed to Stingers, which use infrared) and are supposed to be more difficult to jam.

Wallace was pressed by both Labour and the SNP to send the Starstreak and additional missiles as soon as possible. Labour’s shadow defence secretary, John Healey, has called for the supply decision to be made “as soon as feasible.” Stewart McDonald of the Scottish National Party (SNP) made a very identical request.

“We’re only in week two,” Healey explained. “Russia possesses such devastating firepower. Putin is so merciless that we must anticipate him to achieve more than one of his military objectives in the coming weeks.”

“The projected number of Ukrainian citizens dead or injured now stands at over 1,000,” Wallace told lawmakers, adding that “the true total is expected to be significantly higher.” According to the minister, British aid to Ukraine will increase to £220 million, with £120 million going to humanitarian help.

People in the south-eastern city of Mariupol had been “without power and water for a week,” according to Wallace, while unguided bombs had been dropped on Chernihiv, to the north-east of Kyiv. Russian soldiers sent troops into Kyiv’s eastern Brovary district in an attempt to encircle the capital.

The minister was also pushed on whether he would accept Poland supplying Ukraine with 28 MiG-29 fighter fighters, with Conservative John Baron questioning whether such a deal would not be a hazardous escalation of western involvement in Russia. “A broader war would be counterproductive to the interests of any population,” the MP stated.

On Wednesday, March 9, 2022, Ukrainian rescue workers and volunteers remove an injured pregnant woman from a maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, that was destroyed by shelling. According to Ukrainian sources, a Russian attack has seriously damaged a maternity facility in the besieged coastal city of Mariupol. (Photo courtesy of AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
According to Zelenskiy, the Russian bombing of a maternity hospital was “genocide.”

In response, Wallace stated that the decision was a matter for Poland and that it was up to Warsaw to determine whether it was a proportionate response to the crisis: “If the Polish government believes the security threat is so acute that it requires it, then I would fully understand and support their decision.”

The Pentagon said on Wednesday that “we do not feel Poland’s plan is a tenable one,” putting an end to an apparent accord to deploy the MiGs to Ukraine via the US. For fear of offending the Kremlin, Poland did not want to dispatch the jets directly.

The US stated conversations concerning a possible delivery of fighter jets were still ongoing, despite Wallace’s earlier statement to McDonald that he was not personally involved in such talks.

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