British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed on Thursday that Ukraine’s armed forces have used the Storm Shadow missiles provided by London, which have a range of more than 155 miles.
“All I can confirm is it has been used successfully, that is the information I received from the Ukrainians, and I’m pleased it is helping them to defend their country,” Wallace told CNN.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on May 14 that Ukraine had used Storm Shadow missiles in an attack on the eastern Donbas city of Luhansk and said civilian targets were hit. Russia later claimed that its forces shot down several Storm Shadows.
The Storm Shadows can be fired by Ukraine’s Soviet fighter jets and have a significantly longer range than the munitions the US has provided for the HIMARS rocket systems. Providing such long-range munitions brings a major risk of escalation as they could be used to target Russian territory.
Wallace signaled the UK wouldn’t oppose Ukraine using the Storm Shadows in attacks on Crimea, which Russia has controlled since 2014, but Ukraine and its allies don’t consider Russian territory. “It’s their sovereign soil,” Wallace said when asked about a Ukrainian attempt to retake Crimea.
“It’s a bit like you asking me if the US were choosing to take back parts of Texas from an enemy that had invaded it,” Wallace added. “Britain isn’t going to stand in the way of that.”
While Ukraine’s Western backers approve of attacks on Crimea, they could be just as escalatory as attacks on the Russian mainland. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has previously acknowledged that the peninsula was a “red line” for Russian President Vladimir Putin.