UKRAINE could use British missiles to strike Crimea despite Vladimir Putin’s chilling threat of retaliation.
Rishi Sunak said “nothing is off the table” when it comes to military support for Ukraine after Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded for warplanes.
GettyThe UK could send Harpoon missiles to Ukraine[/caption]
Open GovernmentStorm Shadow missiles are usually deployed from fighter jets[/caption]
PAZelensky visited to the UK to ask Sunak for more military support for Ukraine[/caption]
The PM promised to ship more machinery to Ukraine following the Ukrainian leader’s visit to the UK.
Authorities are now debating whether to send deadly Harpoon anti-ship missiles or surface-to-air Storm Shadows to arm Ukrainian defenders.
Kyiv would be prepared to use such missiles to blast Crimea, a Ukrainian defence source told The Times.
Russia annexed Crimea back in 2014 and Ukraine has repeatedly vowed to reclaim the territory.
During his impassioned speech to Parliament on Wednesday, Zelensky insisted he wanted to strike “deep in the occupied territories”.
Storm Shadow air-launched missiles can travel at up to 600mph and can blast targets up to 350 miles away.
They are designed to hit well-defended static targets like facilities, bunkers and bridges.
The UK’s Harpoon cruise missiles, meanwhile, have a maximum range of 150 miles – six times further than the most powerful GMLRS rockets supplied by Britain so far.
It comes after Putin vowed a “response” with “military-political consequences” if the UK supplies Ukraine with fighter jets.
Mr Sunak said “nothing is off the table” after the Ukrainian PM invoked the spirit of Winston Churchill in his address.
A furious Russia hit back with a chilling warning, in a statement issued through its UK embassy.
The “military-political consequences” of arming Ukraine “will be on the United Kingdom’s hands”, the Kremlin said.
“Russia will know how to respond to any unfriendly actions by the British side.”
Russia also took a swipe at Zelensky, calling him “pompous” and “hypocritical”.
The Ukrainian leader’s plea for weapons comes amid mounting concern a renewed Russian offensive is underway.
Ukraine has warned Russia has hundreds of thousands of soldiers, thousands of tanks, and hundreds of warplanes preparing for a new assault.
Putin is believed to be preparing for a massive blitz in the coming weeks to coincide with the first anniversary of the war on February 24.
Ukraine has been monitoring the military build-up as they continue to plea for Western support – including during Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to London.
Zelensky hailed the UK for its support – but warned it may not be enough, and called for modern fighter planes.
The new assault is feared to be “much bigger” than the first wave which stormed across the country towards Kyiv almost exactly one year ago.
Russia is believed to be massing 1,800 tanks, 3,950 armoured vehicles, 400 fighter jets and 300 helicopters for the attack, according to a Ukrainian official.
They added Putin is also gathering 2,700 artillery guns and 810 rocket launchers for a “new wave of attacks”, reports Foreign Policy.
“It’s much bigger than what took place in the first wave,” the official said.
“They are not paying attention to any casualties or losses. In the next 10 days, we expect a new, huge invasion.”
Ukrainian intelligence has put the figure for the spring offensive at between 300,000 and 500,000 soldiers.
ReutersUkrainian servicemen are preparing for a new attack from Russia[/caption]