18 C
London
Thursday, June 30, 2022

Conservative MPs urge increase in UK military aid for Ukraine | Ukraine

Conservative MPs have called for the UK to increase military aid to Ukraine, including the former cabinet minister David Davis, who said the UK should consider providing air support to the Ukrainian armed forces.

Boris Johnson said western allies “will agree a massive package of economic sanctions designed in time to hobble the Russian economy” – expected to be outlined to House of Commons at 5pm on Thursday.

But Davis said that even the most “ferocious sanctions … are no longer a deterrent, they are a punishment” and that the invasion of Ukraine meant Vladimir Putin had “effectively declared war on the west”.

Davis tweeted: “Therefore if we do not provide military support, more than 40 million Ukrainians will go from living in a democracy to living under a brutal dictatorship.

“It is far too late to get boots on the ground, but it is not too late to provide air support to the Ukrainian army, which may neutralise Putin’s overwhelming armoured superiority.”

Davis said the air support should be confined to the airspace over Ukraine, and based on a request from Ukraine’s president, saying this “should be perfectly legal under almost any interpretation of international law”.

He added: “There are no zero-risk options. If we do not act militarily, then Nato will be significantly weakened and we must fear for the safety of every state that borders Russia.”

Tobias Ellwood, the chair of the defence select committee, said a Nato division should have been stationed in Ukraine as a deterrent. Ukraine is not a Nato member, but has requested membership.

“If Kyiv falls, history will ask why the west didn’t do more?” Ellwood told the BBC.

“Six months ago I called for a division, a Nato division, to be moved into Ukraine. That is what Ukrainians were requesting, and that would have deterred this invasion.

Russia declares war on Ukraine: what we know so far – video report
Russia declares war on Ukraine: what we know so far – video report

“That would have been enough to make Putin think twice. But we didn’t do that, we actually did the opposite. We declared that we would not send any Nato troops into Ukraine. We parked that away.”

The former minister Stephen Hammond also called for the UK to consider using further military deterrent. “We must stand with Ukraine at this time of continental crisisand ensure Russian aggression does not go unpunished. We must work with our allies to impose tougher sanctions and a no-fly zone,” he said.

Russia has significant advantages in air power: its total air force has 1,172 combat aircraft against Ukraine’s 124, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies thinktank.

Russian invasion of Ukraine

Ukraine has sought to modernise its military over the past year, receiving Javelin anti-tank missiles from the US, shorter range anti-tank weapons from the UK and a small number of TB2 drones from Turkey. However, the bulk of its equipment dates back to the Soviet era and will be familiar to Russian generals.

Alicia Kearns, a Conservative MP and former senior communications officer at the Ministry of Defence, said Britain providing defensive support in Ukrainian airspace should be “on the table and under discussion”.

She said this would not be a move taken lightly, as it could mean Russia “shooting British airmen and women out of the sky”.

Kearns said the move would be contingent on “meaningful intelligence” suggesting it would “be effective” at curtailing the Russian advance.

“We know that Putin has a lot of anti-aircraft ground-to-air missiles,” she said. “He might not have any qualms about taking out British troops. If we went in, it would have to be with other Nato allies – a great number.

“The alternative is, of course, the UK could put anti-aircraft missiles in neighbouring countries, but that also runs the risk of taking us into overt war with Russia.

Kearns added it was “too late to put boots on the ground” but that if Russian troops continued their advance on Kyiv, the UK should consider cyberstrikes on the Kremlin and state firms “within the week”. She also suggested Turkey should be encouraged to deny the Russian navy passage through the Bosphorus straits, a key access point between the Black Sea and Mediterranean.

Tom Tugendhat, the chair of the foreign affairs select committee, said weak sanctions such as those announced on Monday “just encourage others to believe we are weak because we’re clearly not willing to do anything serious.

“So what that did, I’m afraid, on Monday was it didn’t deter but encouraged, because it gave the suggestion or made clear that we weren’t wiling to do anything serious.

“If we are going to do sanctions, as I say, we need to do them extremely hard and extremely early.”

Latest news

Related news