Defence Secretary directs officials to fast-track military support to Ukraine

Britain will provide extra weapons to Ukraine and fast-track efforts to deliver previously committed military support, according to the Defence Secretary.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said John Healey has directed officials to ensure a package of support pledged in April by the last government should be delivered in full within the next 100 days.

More artillery and 90 Brimstone missiles are included in the new package announced by Mr Healey during a visit to Odesa, a port city in southern Ukraine.

He held talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who posted a photo showing Mr Healey taking part in a remembrance service on the country’s annual navy day.

The announcements came after Foreign Secretary David Lammy said UK military, economic, political and diplomatic support for Ukraine will “remain ironclad” under the Labour Government.

The UK has provided more than £7.6 billion of military assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022.

Mr Healey said: “As the new Defence Secretary, I will ensure that we reinvigorate Britain’s support by stepping up supplies of vital military aid.

“Our commitment to stand with the Ukrainian people is absolute, as is our resolve to confront Russian aggression and pursue Putin for his war crimes.

“This Government is steadfast in our commitment to continue supplying military assistance and will stand shoulder to shoulder with our Ukrainian friends for as long as it takes.”

The MoD said the new package of support includes ammunition, 90 Brimstone missiles, 50 small military boats to support river and coastal operations, 40 demining vehicles, 10 AS-90 artillery guns and support for previously gifted ones, and 61 bulldozers to help build defensive positions.

The department said the UK’s commitment in April included 400 vehicles, 1,600 strike and air defence missiles, 4 million rounds of ammunition and 60 boats, including offshore raiding craft.

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, Chief of the Defence Staff, said: “The recent milestone of 500,000 Russians killed or wounded is a reminder of how badly this war has gone for Russia.

“Over the past year, with British help, Ukraine has driven the Russian fleet from Crimea and reopened the Black Sea for exports.

“The battle on land is much tougher but Ukraine’s future as a sovereign nation is not in doubt.”

He added: “By continuing to support Ukraine, and by helping to ensure Russia loses, Britain and Europe will be stronger and safer over the long term.”

Mr Healey’s visit to Ukraine within 48 hours of taking on the role is likely to be viewed as a signal from the Government about its commitment to supporting Ukraine.

Former prime minister Rishi Sunak, the outgoing Conservative Party leader, had claimed during the General Election campaign that multi-year support to Ukraine would be put at risk under Labour.

Mr Zelensky said he had discussed the planned 100-year partnership with the UK, which was first proposed under the Tories.

The Ukrainian leader said: “I met with the newly appointed Secretary of State for Defence of the United Kingdom.

“We discussed the implementation of the security agreement and the preparation of a future 100-year cooperation agreement between Ukraine and the UK.

“Our defence cooperation enables Ukrainian warriors to effectively defend against the aggressor both at sea and on land, particularly with the help of long-range weapons.

“I thank the United Kingdom for its strong support of our country during this time of war.”