Boris Johnson Reportedly Considers Supplying Anti-Ship Missiles to Ukraine
Documents published by UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak late last month revealed that the British government has already given Kiev over Â£100 million ($132 million) worth of weapons to help Ukrainian forces tackle Russia's ongoing special military operation.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reportedly told his ministers that he wants to provide Ukraine with anti-ship missiles to keep Russia from taking control of the Ukrainian port of Odessa as part of Moscow's ongoing special military operation in the country.
The Times quoted an unnamed source as saying that Johnson is seeking to arm Ukraine with such missiles in the same way Ukrainian troops received British anti-tank weapons to help them stop Russian forces entering the capital Kiev.
According to the source, the UK "anticipated this mass column of tanks coming across what is a very flat expanse of landscape and that Kiev would be taken in three days. The NLAWs [next-generation light anti-tank weapons] stopped that".
The insider asserted "that bit of the war is not over but it's parked", adding that Russian troops are "now concentrating on the south".
"The next target is Odessa. It's not tanks, which are going to come at Odessa. It's going to be ships. NLAWs don't work against ships, so what does? They want the kind of stuff that can take out ships. The PM is eager and determined to help find that. We don't have everything they need for the next stage but we have become the default coordinator of other countries", the source claimed.
The remarks came a few days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked for anti-ship weapons, including the US-made Harpoon missiles used by the Royal Navy.
Russia's Defence Ministry has since announced that Russian jets and warships struck an oil refinery and fuel storage facilities in Odessa on Sunday morning.
"High-precision strikes launched this morning from the sea and air destroyed an oil refinery and three fuel and lubricant depots near the city of Odessa that supplied Ukrainian troops in the Nikolayev region", ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told a news briefing.
This followed Tuesday's round of talks between Moscow and Kiev in Istanbul, where Russia received a "clearly articulated position" from its Ukrainian counterparts, according to Moscow's chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky.
He said they had received written proposals from Ukraine confirming its readiness for "a neutral, non-aligned and non-nuclear status, along with a refusal to produce and deploy all types of weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and bacteriological, and a ban on the presence of foreign military bases and foreign troops on the territory of the country".
Medinsky announced Moscow's plans to take military de-escalation steps, in the form of a "significant reduction" of Russia's activities in the directions of Kiev and Chernigov. At the same time, he underscored that military de-escalation does not entail a ceasefire in these directions.
Russia's Special Op in Ukraine
The Russian special military operation, which aims to demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine, was announced by President Vladimir Putin on 24 February, following a request for help from the Donbass republics which saw weeks of intensifying shelling by the Ukrainian Army.
According to the Russian Defence Ministry, the operation only aims to destroy Ukraine's military infrastructure with high-precision weapons.
Since 24 February, the UK has reportedly supplied about 4,200 NLAWs to Ukraine's forces, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak saying last month that Kiev had already received more than Â£100 million ($132 million) worth of weapons from London.
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