UK to send worlds fastest anti-aircraft missile to Ukraine

Ukraine: 'Killing of civilians was intended' by Russia

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The Prime Minister said high-grade equipment, including Starstreak – the world’s fastest anti-aircraft missile – is being sent to strengthen Ukrainian defences. Mr Johnson made the announcement after Downing Street talks with German chancellor Olaf Scholz. He said: “I know that Britain and Germany share exactly the same sense of horror and revulsion at the brutality unleashed, including the unconscionable bombing of refugees fleeing their homes this morning.

“It is a war crime indiscriminately to attack civilians and Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine will not go unnoticed or unpunished.”

Germany has faced criticism for continuing to spend billions on Russian energy, but Mr Johnson praised Berlin’s “huge steps” to end reliance on the supplies.

At a joint press conference after the talks, Mr Scholz said his country was doing “all we can” to wean itself off Russian energy, but it would take 20 years to complete. Mr Johnson said relations between the UK and Germany were “absolutely crucial” at this time. He added Vladimir Putin had failed to divide the West and had instead united Europe and the transatlantic alliance.

He said: “Putin has steeled our resolve, sharpened our focus, and he has forced Europe to begin to rearm to guarantee our shared security.

“Britain and Germany will work together to ensure that our Armed Forces are fit for the future, including with our joint effort to manufacture state-of-the-art Boxer armoured vehicles.”

As well as the Starstreak missiles, hardware bound for Ukraine include Mastiff vehicles built to withstand Taliban mines in Afghanistan and “precision munitions capable of lingering in the sky until directed to their target”.

More anti-tank weapons, helmets, night vision and body armour are also on their way.

It comes as Western experts say Putin may be redeploying Russian troops “piecemeal” into eastern Ukraine. It is thought he is scrambling for a victory by May 9 to coincide with Moscow’s Red Square parade to mark the Second World War Nazi surrender.

One Western official said: “There is a tension between the military logic of getting the force properly set for a reinvigorated Russian operation into the Donbas…against a political imperative to actually get on with the operation and move quickly.

“It looks like a sort of piecemeal approach to feeding Russian forces into the revitalised campaign in the Donbas [region].

“But also, there is the dynamic of what happens with Ukrainian forces, which are no longer being pinned down in and around Kyiv or Chernihiv. There is a risk, as far as the Russians are concerned, that Ukrainian forces will redeploy and now start to have an impact on Russian freedom of manoeuvre to be able to execute the operations in and around the Donbas.”

The source added: “I think that is going to be an unfolding picture over the coming days.”

Russia has shifted its military campaign to eastern Ukraine after a series of defeats around Kyiv and other areas.

The Kremlin is now aiming to seize the two big eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk. And its forces are also moving south and west towards Kramatorsk and its northern neighbour Slovyansk.

Moscow forces have abandoned “a lot” of tanks, vehicles and artillery in a “hasty” withdrawal from northern Ukraine, in what may be a sign of a collapse of morale, a Western insider said.

The official added: “Some of it’s kind of unclear as to why it’s been abandoned, because you might have thought some of these vehicles are still usable and you think they would have been able to take them.

“I think there’s something around the collapse of morale and the collapse of the will to fight.”

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