Pledge to send Ukraine more rockets prompts Russian threat of advance

Kremlin threat as UK’s pledge to send Ukraine more rockets prompts Russian vow to push further into the country

  • Russia threatened to push further into Ukraine after UK and US promised rockets
  • Ben Wallace said that Britain will send an unspecified number of M270 launchers
  • They can fire rockets up to 50 miles – a longer range than any currently in use 
  • Ukrainian troops will be trained in the UK to use the equipment, Wallace said 
  • US announced it would supply High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems to Ukraine 

Russia last night threatened to push further into Ukraine after the UK and US pledged long-range rockets to help Kyiv.

Britain’s sophisticated M270 launchers can fire precision-guided rockets up to 50 miles and take out Russian artillery that is indiscriminately pulverising eastern cities.

Despite its attempts to seize the eastern regions moving at a crawl, Moscow responded by vowing to push the front line even further into Ukraine.

Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said: ‘The longer the range of the systems that will be delivered, the further we will move back the Nazis from the line from which threats to Russian-speakers and the Russian Federation may come.’

Russia last night threatened to push further into Ukraine after the UK and US pledged long-range rockets to help Kyiv. Pictured: Putin announces the start of his war in Ukraine on February 24 

Zelensky is pictured listening to an update from one of his commanders during a visit to Lysychansk, on the Donbas frontline, late Sunday

The M270 launchers (pictured), which can strike targets up to 50 miles away with precision-guided rockets, will ‘offer a significant boost in capability for the Ukrainian forces’ 

A Ukrainian soldier equipped with a British NLAW anti-tank launcher on the lookout for Russian armoured vehicles near Bakhmut, Donbas

A Ukrainian soldier uses a grenade launcher to open fire on Russian attackers near the city of Bakmut, in the eastern Donbas region

Zelensky’s visit too him within just a few hundred yards of the frontlines in eastern Ukraine, as counter-attacks take place across the country

After the US announced it was sending M142 rocket systems, Vladimir Putin warned on Sunday that Russia would strike ‘new targets’ if the West supplied longer-range missiles. The threat was dismissed by Boris Johnson, who said the British systems will help Ukraine ‘effectively repel the continuing Russian onslaught’.

The Prime Minister said: ‘We cannot stand by while Russian long-range artillery flattens cities and kills innocent civilians.’

Despite yesterday’s leadership drama, Mr Johnson spoke to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss the latest military aid from the UK.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: ‘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. If the international community continues its support, I believe Ukraine can win. 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.’

Ukrainian troops will be trained in the UK to use the equipment, he added. A land warfare expert said the pledges from the UK and US could make a difference, but warned it would not ‘change things overnight’.

Dr Jack Watling, of the Royal United Services Institute think-tank, said the M270 rocket launchers were the ‘crown jewels of the British Army’s capability’.

Biden officially announced a new $700 million security package for the Ukraine on Wednesday

The United States is sending four HIMARS missile systems to Ukraine in the latest round of military aid

A Ukrainian soldier is pictured near a defensive position in Bakhmut, close to the frontline with Russian in the eastern Donbas region

But he told BBC Radio 4 it would take time for the Ukrainians to be trained to use them. The BBC said it understood the UK was supplying three of the M270 systems.

In a further blow to Putin, it was claimed that he lost two more senior commanders in a devastating bridge ambush in eastern Ukraine. A group of independent journalists working on both sides of the war said Major-General Roman Kutuzov and Lieutenant-General Roman Berdnikov were killed on the same day in an attack by Kyiv’s forces.

Meanwhile, Russia’s air force appears to be turning to crowdfunding to source basic equipment. Images posted on a Russian aviation channel showed radios, flashlights, binoculars and even pilot helmets and oxygen masks that were funded or sourced by the channel’s 125,000 subscribers.

It came as Lavrov was forced to cancel a visit to Serbia after several European countries refused permission for him to fly through their airspace. The Kremlin denounced the ‘hostile actions’ of Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro.

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