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The British army’s M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). Photo: Reuters

UK to give Ukraine long-range M270 rocket systems after Putin warnings

  • M270 multiple-launch rocket systems can strike targets up to 80km away
  • UK said its move was coordinated with the US in response to Russia’s invasion
Ukraine war

Britain said it will mirror the United States and send long-range rocket systems to Ukraine, defying warnings from Russian President Vladimir Putin against supplying Kyiv with the advanced weapons.

The UK Ministry of Defence said London had coordinated closely with Washington over its gift of the multiple-launch rocket systems, known as MLRS, to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression.

The M270 launchers, which can strike targets up to 80km (50 miles) away with precision-guided rockets, will “offer a significant boost in capability for the Ukrainian forces,” the ministry added.

The US last week announced it would give Kyiv its high mobility artillery rocket system, known as Himars, which can simultaneously launch multiple precision-guided missiles and is superior in range and precision to existing systems Ukraine has.

However, US President Joe Biden has ruled out supplying it with systems that could reach as far as Russia, despite Kyiv’s repeated demands for them.

Despite that, the US move prompted Putin to warn Sunday that Moscow will strike new unspecified “targets” if the West supplies the missiles to Ukraine and said new arms deliveries to Kyiv were aimed at “prolonging the conflict”.

Weapons for Ukraine: Who has sent what?

Unveiling the latest UK contribution, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace insisted Ukraine’s Western allies must maintain their weapons deliveries to enable it to “win” its war repelling invading Russian forces.

“The UK stands with Ukraine in this fight and is taking a leading role in supplying its heroic troops with the vital weapons they need to defend their country from unprovoked invasion,” he said in a statement.

“As Russia’s tactics change, so must our support to Ukraine. These highly capable multiple-launch rocket systems will enable our Ukrainian friends to better protect themselves against the brutal use of long-range artillery, which Putin’s forces have used indiscriminately to flatten cities.”

Ukrainian troops will be trained on how to use the launchers in the UK, so they can “maximise the effectiveness of the systems”, Britain’s defence ministry said.


100 days of war: What has happened in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion?

100 days of war: What has happened in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion?

London has so far offered more than £750 million (US$937 million) in military support to Ukraine, including sending air defence systems, thousands of anti-tank missiles and various types of munitions, hundreds of armoured vehicles and other equipment.

Kyiv’s residents awoke on Sunday to the first Russian strikes on the capital since April 28, while Moscow’s forces also maintained steady pressure via artillery and air strikes in the eastern Donbas region.

Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said Russia stepped up missile strikes in response to the newly promised arms.

“Supplies of Western weapons are of great concern for the Kremlin, because even without sufficient weapons the Ukrainian army is daringly resisting the offensive,” he said.

Additional reporting by dpa and Associated Press