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Ukraine: Defence Support

Volume 724: debated on Monday 12 December 2022

9. How many (a) armoured vehicles, (b) anti-tank weapons and (c) multiple-launch rocket systems his Department has donated to Ukraine for use against Russian forces in that country. (902715)

The UK is the second largest donor in military aid to Ukraine. We have gifted almost 200 armoured vehicles and more than 10,000 anti-tank missiles to Ukraine. We have also delivered a number of multiple launch rocket systems to counter Putin’s brutal use of long-range artillery, but, for reasons of operational security, I am unable to give a precise quantity.

His Majesty’s Government have led Europe in arming Ukraine against Russian aggression. What assessment has the Secretary of State made of the equipment and personnel losses incurred by the Russian armed forces as a result of the deployment of British weaponry in theatre?

Although we do not specifically collect data on UK use of weapons, we can say that we estimate that more than 100,000 Russians are either dead, injured or have deserted. Russia has also lost 4,500 armoured vehicles, 63 fixed-wing aircraft, 70 helicopters, 150 unmanned aerial vehicles, 12 naval vessels and more than 600 artillery systems, and failed to capture a single one of its major objectives from day one. President Putin’s three-day war, or special operation, turns out to have been a disaster for him and his army.

Ukrainians have been buying Mitsubishi L200 pick-up trucks from west country farmers to adapt them for use as impromptu fighting vehicles. As the first Boxer armoured vehicles arrive with the British Army in the coming months, what consideration are the Government giving to passing some of the retiring Warrior infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine?

First and foremost, the type of weaponry and vehicles that the Ukrainians are buying off the shelf like that is not necessarily because of a lack of need elsewhere, but because of the speed and innovation that they require. When we transfer something like a Warrior armoured personnel carrier, it is tracked, it is—if my memory serves me right—28 tonnes, and it comes with a huge long logistical supply chain. We are very interested in making sure that we keep them supplied with equipment that they can use almost immediately rather than having to deal with the huge logistical tail that will come with it. We focus on giving them what we can. We have obviously supported the renovation of armoured vehicles and we will continue to do so.

The House will know that supplies of British, American and other western equipment have been vital in helping our Ukrainian friends to protect themselves against the continuing and merciless Russian attacks, and I thank my right hon. Friend and the Government for all that they have done and continue to do. Does he agree that we and our allies must help our Ukrainian friends not just to take out the drones and missiles, which means supplying them with anti-aircraft systems and fixed-wing aircraft to help shoot them down, but to take out the launch sites of those missiles and drones by supplying the Ukrainians with the use of longer-range missile systems, such as army tactical missile systems? That is the way, truly, to protect our Ukrainian friends and to bring the war to an end as soon as possible.

Without my right hon. Friend’s support of me and Ukraine, none of this would have been possible. I place on record my great appreciation of his support through that process. He is right that the Russians are taking advantage of the short-range capability of the Ukrainian armed forces by using Iranian kamikaze drones and, against all the rules of law, including the Geneva conventions, by the mass targeting of critical civilian infrastructure. That is not only a war crime, but a war crime that we must see does not go unpunished. I constantly review the weapons systems we could provide; I hear his call for ATACMS from the United States, but we too have in our armoury potential weapon systems that are longer range and, should the Russians continue to target civilian areas and break those Geneva conventions, I will be open-minded about what we do next.

At a recent event in Monkstown Boxing Club in my constituency, which was arranged to show support for Ukrainians located in the greater Belfast area, there was huge support and thanks for the work our Government have done to help Ukrainians to defend themselves against Russians. The question is this: we are supplying equipment, but there is talk now that we are only supplying very limited ammunition for that equipment. Is the Secretary of State convinced, first, that we are supplying what is needed and, secondly, that we have the capacity to supply what is needed in the future?

We are providing ammunition, although some of it is in the form not necessarily of mass shells, but of more sophisticated weapons systems such as Brimstone missiles or Saab Thales next generation light anti-tank weapons, made in Belfast. We continue to supply those and indeed resupply ourselves. For the areas where we do not have something, we have set up an international fund with the Danish, which has so far raised €600 million, and we will be announcing the first block of purchases from the international community or from production lines to make sure we help Ukraine to get through 2023.