UK to supply Ukraine with Storm Shadow missiles - what are Harpoon anti-ship missiles and Storm Shadows?

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Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said that the delivery of the missiles to Ukraine will give the country the "best chance" of defending itself against Russia

President Volodymyr Zelensky has visited the UK days after the country confirmed that it will supply Storm Shadow long-range missiles to Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

In a meeting with the Prime Minster at Chequers earlier today (15 May), Zelensky thanked Rishi Sunak for the support but pushed for further aid, including fighter jets. Zelensky has been in pursuit of the jets for many months now, with the new spring offensive on hold until Ukraine's military is fully equipped.

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The announcement was made by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in the House of Commons, who said that the missiles would give Ukraine the "best chance" in defending itself from Russian forces. Wallace added that the decision was made by the UK after Russia began targeting civilian areas and infrastructure in Ukraine.

The news comes after it was reported that Ukraine would be prepared to use British supplied missiles in the Russian-annexed region of Crimea.

The Kremlin has criticised the UK government's decision to send the missiles to Ukraine. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “Britain aspires to be at the forefront among countries that continue to pump weapons into Ukraine.

“We repeat once again, it cannot yield any drastic and fundamental influence on the way the special military operation is unfolding.”

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The Russian Embassy added that the weapons could be used to "sow death, destruction and terror among the civilian population” in Russian-annexed areas.

While Sunak has not promised fighter jets immediately for Ukraine, the PM said that “nothing was off the table” in the future. It comes as Ukraine prepares to launch a new counter offensive in the country more than one year on from the initial invasion.

What are Harpoon anti-ship missiles?

A Harpoon anti-ship missile is a US-made weapon. It was first developed in the 1970s and has since become widely used by forces around the world.

The range of the missile is around 139km. It is able to accurate reach targets around 80 miles away.

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British harpoon anti-ship missiles are set to be used by Ukraine to hit Crimea. (Credit: Getty Images)British harpoon anti-ship missiles are set to be used by Ukraine to hit Crimea. (Credit: Getty Images)
British harpoon anti-ship missiles are set to be used by Ukraine to hit Crimea. (Credit: Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

The unit itself is classed as a sea-skimming. This is key to its operational use, as flying low to the water allows for the missiles to go undetected.

What are air-to-surface Storm Shadows?

Storm Shadows are relatively newer creations in the world of weaponary. The missile was first developed in 1994.

These long-range, cruise missiles have a range of aproximately 560km. They are know as ‘fire and forget’ missiles, meaning that its target is progammed before launch.

They have been used in major conflicts across this world. This inlcude the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and during the Nato intervention in the Libyan Civil War.

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