LONDON — The British Ministry of Defence has announced it will send helicopters to Ukraine for the first time since the war began.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said it will be the first time piloted aircraft were sent to the war-torn nation since Russia’s invasion.
According to the BBC, three former Sea King helicopters will be provided. The first of which has already arrived in Ukraine.
Wallace, who made the announcement from Oslo where he is meeting allies to discuss ongoing military support for Kiev, added that Britain will also send an additional 10,000 artillery rounds.
It comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak used a visit to the Ukrainian capital to set out a new £50-million ($59.5-million) package of defence aid which included 125 anti-aircraft guns and equipment to counter Iranian-supplied drones.
During a visit to Norway, Wallace said: “Our support for Ukraine is unwavering. These additional artillery rounds will help Ukraine to secure the land it has reclaimed from Russia in recent weeks.”
The Royal Navy provided six weeks’ training on Sea Kings in Britain for Ukraine’s armed forces and engineers, the Ministry of Defence said.
The fresh support follows a commitment to provide 1,000 surface-to-air missiles and 125 anti-aircraft guns.
Wallace is in Norway meeting allied defence ministers on the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson, who was prime minister when the invasion began, said France was in denial “right up until the last moment” when Russian forces crossed the border.
And he said Germany wanted Ukraine to quickly lose, rather than have a lengthy war, for “all sorts of sound economic reasons.”
“This thing was a huge shock. We could see the Russian battalion tactical groups amassing but different countries had very different perspectives,” Johnson told US broadcaster CNN.
“Be in no doubt that the French were in denial right up until the last moment.
“The Germans, for all sorts of sound economic reasons, really didn’t want it to ... I’ll tell you a terrible thing – the German view was at one stage that if it were going to happen, which would be a disaster, then it would be better for the whole thing to be over quickly and for Ukraine to fold.
“I couldn’t support that. I thought that was a disastrous way of looking at it but I could understand why they thought and felt as they did.”
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