Ukraine’s military has obtained a new long-range strike capability with the provision of multiple Storm Shadow cruise missiles by the United Kingdom.
The missiles are being deployed in light of Ukraine’s plans to mount a counteroffensive aimed at reclaiming Kremlin-controlled areas in the eastern and southern parts of the country.
CNN was the first to report the UK’s delivery of the missiles, citing senior Western officials. Storm Shadow’s range allows it to strike deep into Russian-held areas in Eastern Ukraine, with assurances from Ukraine that the missiles will be used solely within its sovereign territory.
In an oral statement to Parliament on Thursday, British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed the delivery of the missiles.
“Today, I can confirm that the UK has donated Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine. Storm Shadow is a long-range conventional precision strike capability. It compliments the long-range systems already gifted, including HIMARS and Harpoon missiles, as well as Ukraine’s own Neptune cruise missiles and longer-range munitions already gifted,” Wallace said.
“The donation of these weapon systems gives Ukraine the best chance to defend themselves against Russia’s continued brutality. Especially, the deliberate targeting of Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, which is against international law. Ukraine has a right to be able to defend itself against this. Their use of Storm Shadow will allow Ukraine to push back Russian forces based within Ukrainian sovereign territory.”
During the earlier months of this year, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak indicated that the possibility of sending long-range weapons was under consideration by Britain.
The UK government issued a procurement notice through the International Fund for Ukraine, inviting expressions of interest for the purchase of “long-range strike” rockets or missiles. The notice specified a range of 100-300km and a payload capacity of 20-490kg, with potential suppliers to be contacted after a month.
“The UK has previously said that it will supply Ukraine with long-range weapons, this will now include a number of Storm Shadow missiles. The British government has been clear that this is only in response to Russia’s deliberate targeting of civilian national infrastructure and is a proportionate response,” said a Western official to CNN.
In an interview with European public service broadcasters published on Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed confidence in Ukraine’s existing resources, stating, ‘With what we have, we can go forward and be successful. But we’d lose a lot of people. I think that’s unacceptable.’
However, he emphasized the necessity of patience, pointing to the fact that Ukraine is still receiving or awaiting deliveries of further armored vehicles, including tanks.
While the US has vowed ongoing support for Ukraine, the Ukrainian’s requests for longer-range missiles like ATACMS have not been fulfilled. US officials have stated that Ukraine’s current conflict does not warrant the use of ATACMS for targeting relevant objectives, reports CNN.
The Storm Shadow cruise missile, a product of joint development between France and the UK, possesses stealth capabilities and is usually deployed through aerial launch. While it has a firing range surpassing 250 km (155 miles), it falls just shy of the Army Tactical Missile System’s (ATACMS) 185-mile range capability, which Ukraine has long sought after.
MBDA Missile Systems, the European manufacturer of the Storm Shadow missile, describes it as an air-launched long range, conventionally armed, deep strike weapon capable of all-weather operation.
Storm Shadow / SCALP has been put into operations with the Royal Air Force and the French Air Force in 2003 and is now in service with three other nations.
The CNN report did not provide details on what platforms Ukraine would use to employ the missiles.