The UK will double the number of missiles it sends to Ukraine and urge western allies to step up provisions of lethal aid to the country, as the Russian invasion turns into a prolonged war of attrition.
Boris Johnson will tell world leaders at the Nato summit on Thursday that the conflict is entering a new phase of aggression and humanitarian catastrophe with the siege of Mariupol and the indiscriminate attacks on civilians.
Western officials have said that both the Ukrainians and the Russians are running short of weapons as the conflict grinds on due to Ukrainian defence that was far better than expected – and that they had anticipated they would be supporting a smaller Ukrainian insurgency by this stage.
Ahead of the summit, Johnson said the UK would provide 6,000 new defensive missiles, including high-explosive weapons, and £25m from Foreign Office funds to help Ukraine pay its military and police forces. Not all of the missiles are expected to be next-generation light anti-tank weapons (NLAWs) – of which the UK has already provided more than 4,200. The defence secretary, Ben Wallace, was filmed saying that the UK would send more missiles but was “running out of our own” on a prank call last week.
The additional weaponry means that the UK has now provided more than 10,000 missiles. It will be supplying Starstreak high-velocity anti-air missiles to help Ukrainians defend themselves against aerial bombings, as well as body armour, helmets and combat boots. But No 10 said it was hoped that international partners would also send weapons needed for longer-range targeting and intelligence.
The talks with Nato and G7 leaders, which will be followed by a European Council meeting to which Johnson has not been invited, mark one month since the Russian invasion.
“Vladimir Putin is already failing in Ukraine,” Johnson said in a statement ahead of the summit in Brussels. “The Ukrainian people have shown themselves to be extraordinarily brave and tenacious in defending their homeland, in the face of an unprovoked onslaught. But we cannot and will not stand by while Russia grinds Ukraine’s towns and cities into dust.
“The United Kingdom will work with our allies to step up military and economic support to Ukraine, strengthening their defences as they turn the tide in this fight. One month into this crisis, the international community faces a choice. We can keep the flame of freedom alive in Ukraine, or risk it being snuffed out across Europe and the world.”
No 10 said that 4 million items of medical equipment and 500 mobile generators will also be sent to Ukraine.