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Ukraine: Military Support

Volume 735: debated on Monday 26 June 2023

The UK continues to be recognised as a leading nation providing military support to Ukraine, training more than 17,000 recruits and providing £2.3 billion-worth of support last year and this year. We have sent hundreds of thousands of rounds of artillery ammunition, thousands of missiles and hundreds of armoured vehicles. We have led the world on gifting vital capabilities such as multiple launch rocket systems, Challenger 2 and Storm Shadow missiles.

As well as contributing through the international fund for Ukraine and the Ukraine defence contact group, I really welcome that the UK has contributed an additional £60 million to NATO’s comprehensive assistance package for Ukraine, which focuses on capacity building in key areas such as cyber and logistics. What is my right hon. Friend’s assessment of whether Ukraine is receiving the right kind of assistance from NATO to support its longer-term ambitions for NATO membership?

NATO’s comprehensive assistance package for Ukraine is providing urgent non-lethal assistance to enable the defence of Ukraine. The CAP also focuses on meeting Ukraine’s longer-term needs, including reconstruction and transition to NATO standards, which are essential for countries wishing to join the alliance. Since February 2022, the UK has contributed £82 million to the CAP.

In the past few days there have been deeply alarming reports in our press that Russian forces may have placed highly destructive mines at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. What assessment has the Secretary of State made of the risk of a major nuclear incident?

My right hon. Friend asks a very important question about the risk posed by Russian activity not only within its own borders, but in Ukraine and at the nuclear power station of Zaporizhzhia. Sadly, Russia has shown no restraint in using munitions against civilian structures, critical national infrastructure, hospitals, surgeries and so on, which add to the long list of war crimes that it has clearly been engaged in. We monitor it very closely. We work with the international community to ensure that everything that can be done is done to protect the nuclear power station, and to remind Russia, not only through us but through third countries, of its obligations to protect the civilian population.

I fully support the provision of all the munitions that we have been able to give to Ukraine. I hope we will be able to continue to do that for the foreseeable future, and certainly until Putin loses. It seems that quite often different allies of Ukraine are giving different kinds of bits and pieces of armament and munitions, and that that does not necessarily add up to more than the sum of its parts. Would it not be better if we now looked to the future by commissioning jointly, so that we get more matériel at cost directly through to Ukraine?

The hon. Gentleman makes a really important point. To better co-ordinate the gifting, at the beginning we set up the International Donor Co-ordination Centre, with about 80 British personnel in the lead, alongside the United States, to ensure that what Ukraine is asking for is what it gets and that it is co-ordinated across the international community, because we all have different armouries. In recognition of his very important point about how we develop and encourage a sustainable supply chain to Ukraine, Britain alongside Denmark set up the international fund for Ukraine. We committed £250 million last year and another £250 million this year, and it is topping up towards €1 billion-plus of funding. One specific task is to commission effectively from supply chains and manufacturing plants, so that there is a long-term solution to the need and munition is rolling off production lines. We all have finite stocks, which is why we will use the cash in the fund to start commissioning, which we have already done.

The Liberal Democrats support the Secretary of State on the supply of arms and equipment to Ukraine for its sovereign defence. Has he assessed what effect the Storm Shadow missile has had on operations? Will he tell us whether other allies, such as the United States, also intend to provide long-range precision guided missiles?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. My understanding is that the Storm Shadow missile has had a significant impact on the battlefield. Its accuracy and ability to deliver successfully the payload, as sent and designed by the Ukrainians, has been almost without fault. That is an extraordinary achievement in terms of both the engineering that went into it, and the Ukrainians deploying it and using it as it needs to. It has had an effect on the Russian army, mainly around its logistics and command and control. That shows the importance of deep fires. We absolutely urge other international partners to come forward with their deep fires that are required. When HIMARS was put in on the M270s, which have a range of 80 km, that had a similar effect and the Russians moved many of its C2 nodes out of range, which is why deep fires became important. The key is to recognise that if the Russians move out of range, we must work together internationally to provide the equipment to ensure they are back in range.