UK foreign secretary defends allies’ delays in supplying Ukraine with long-range weapons

UK foreign secretary defends allies’ delays in supplying Ukraine with long-range weapons

James Cleverly has defended the US and Germany over an apparent delay by the countries in supplying Ukraine with long-range weapons amid Russia’s invasion.

The UK had already delivered long-range cruise missiles to the war-hit country in May this year along with anti-tank missile systems and other equipment.

Ukraine had been making requests for long-range missiles for several months, but the support from countries like the UK and US had previously focused on providing shorter-range weaponry.

UK’s foreign minister, in an interview with Voice of America, was asked about the US and Germany currently negotiating providing long-range missiles to Ukraine and any fears they may have over the escalation of the war.

“You may know what their fears are. Why do they still have doubts?” he was asked. Mr Cleverly replied saying “people are listening to Vladimir Putin’s threats of escalation”.

“But I keep saying that people who are concerned about the fear of escalation should realise that it is Vladimir Putin who is responsible for the escalation because he initiated the full-scale invasion last February,” he said.

“It is he who attacks Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, grain export facilities and commercial operations in Ukraine. So, Russia is responsible for the escalation, and we are responding to Russia’s behaviour, its violence in Ukraine.”

Mr Cleverly also emphasised that the Ukrainian military is advancing in their counteroffensive efforts and said the UK was committed to aiding Ukraine in enhancing its air defence capabilities and providing training for Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter aircraft.

He also stressed “that we must continue to support Ukraine while it defends itself against Russian invasion. It may take longer than some expect. However, it is important that we continue to support Ukraine until it succeeds in defending itself against Russia”.

“I’ve been saying this for quite some time, in fact, for most of the past year, that we have to admit that the war in Ukraine, it’s not a Hollywood movie that the Russians spent most of the end of last year and the beginning of this year digging fortifications, laying minefields,” Mr Cleverly said in response to a question about the speed and success of Ukraine’s counteroffensive efforts.

“That’s why I’ve always said that this counteroffensive will be difficult.

“I believe that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are making steady progress. They are cautious and methodical.”

Mr Cleverly also fielded questions about the ongoing discussion among international partners over whether Ukraine should be supplied with modern weapons like long-range missiles and F-16 aircraft.

“At the beginning of this year, the UK decided that we would supply battle tanks, that we would provide some of those long-range missiles that the Ukrainian Armed Forces are using very, very effectively. That is why we continue to insist that Ukraine deserves our support,” he said.

“Ukraine needs this military equipment, and it is in our interest for Ukraine to defend itself, as well as to defend the UN Charter, to defend the concept of sovereignty and territorial integrity. That is why we will continue to support Ukraine and continue to advocate for more countries to provide more support to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”