Britain is sending 100 troops and the Sky Saber missile defense system to Poland to “protect its airspace from Russian aggression”.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said during a visit to Warsaw that Poland, which bears the brunt of refugees fleeing Ukraine after the Russian invasion, is a “very old ally”.
He said: “It is only right that Britain should stand with Poland, for Poland bears much of the burden of the consequences of this war and stands tall and brave in resisting the threats of the Russia.”
The announcement comes as NATO has pledged to send more troops to defend its eastern flank, and just days after Russian missiles hit a military base in Yavoriv, Ukraine, a few miles from the border with Poland.
Sky Saber has three key components that will work up to 15km away in the battlespace
The new Common Anti-Aircraft Modular Missile (CAMM) used by the Sky Saber has three times the range of the Rapier and can reach speeds of 2,300 mph and can target fighter jets, drones and laser-guided smart bombs
Downing Street said the deployment of the Sky Saber system would “support the Polish armed forces at the request of the Polish government”.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said: “This is, as always, a purely defensive capability that we provide on a bilateral basis to Poland. It will remain under British control at all times.
He said it was a “short-term deployment”.
The increased support comes as Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said a Russian airstrike against Ukrainian refugees in a theater ‘appears to be a specific targeting’ of a civilian building and a ‘clear breach of international law “.
Survivors have started to emerge as authorities scramble to rescue hundreds of civilians trapped in the basement of a Mariupol site where they were locked up, with footage showing an entire section of the three-storey building floors collapsed after a strike Wednesday evening.
Shelter officials said it miraculously held on, with people “coming out alive”, according to a Facebook post from Ukrainian MP Sergiy Taruta.
Fellow MP Dmytro Gurin told BBC Radio 4’s World At One that it “seems people are doing well” in the theater – which he said was manned by around 1,200 people, mostly women and children – after being hit by a “super powerful bomb”. .
It is not yet known whether any injuries or deaths have been suffered among those inside.
UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace (centre left) talks to officers in front of the Saab Giraffe (C) surveillance radar, a key part of the Sky Saber air defense system during the colors change parade of the ‘Royal Artillery at Baker Barracks, Thorney Island, in January
The Russian Defense Ministry denied bombing the theatre, but Mr Gurin said: ‘It is impossible that it was an accident. It was intentional”.
Mr Cleverly, asked on ITV’s Good Morning Britain if he thought the bombing of the shelter ‘looked like a war crime’, said: ‘The targeting of civilian infrastructure is contrary to international humanitarian law and the law of armed conflict.
“Ultimately, it is up to international courts and tribunals to make the formal decision, but it is obvious that this is a civil infrastructure of which we have seen the word “Kids” painted in Russian on the outside of this building.”
What is the Sky Saber Missile System?
- The Sky Saber missile system was introduced in December 2021 and is the latest advanced defense technology for the military
- Sky Saber has three key components that will work up to 15km away in battlespace.
- A Giraffe Agile Multi Beam 3D medium range surveillance radar that rotates 360 degrees on an extendable mast and can scan up to 120km to detect threats.
- A computer system linking the radar and the missiles sending them to their targets.
- The system will also provide the “Link 16”, a tactical data link allowing Sky Saber to share its information with Royal Navy ships, Royal Air Force systems and our allies, providing full integration into the armed forces. British and NATO joint operations.
- At 99 kg each, Common Anti-Aircraft Modular Missiles (CAMMs) weigh twice the retired Rapier missiles and have three times the range.
- The missiles can reach speeds of 2,300 mph taking out fighter jets, drones and even laser-guided smart bombs.
- Eight missiles are mounted on the launcher, which fire multi-directionally, greatly reducing its signature, making it less of a target for enemies.
- Launcher also rearms in less than half the time of Rapier
“This appears to be a specific targeting of civilian infrastructure and, as I said, is a clear violation of international law and the law of armed conflict.”
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss asked if Russian President Vladimir Putin was a war criminal, telling Radio 4’s Women’s Hour: ‘There is very, very strong evidence that he is. .”
However, she repeated her deputy minister’s assertion that it was up to international criminal tribunals to formally decide whether war crimes had been committed.
His comments come after US President Joe Biden called Mr Putin a “war criminal” in response to a reporter’s question in Washington.
The White House incumbent’s remarks were criticized by the Kremlin, but Ms Truss said it was not a mistake on Mr Biden’s part to give the Russian leader that label.
It comes amid suggestions that the peace talks are starting to show signs of progress.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after a meeting on Tuesday that a neutral military status for Ukraine was “seriously discussed” by both sides, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the demands of the Russia to end the war became “more realistic”.
Mr Cleverly said any peace deal with Russia must be “one that Ukrainians sincerely believe in”.
As part of the talks on the resolution, Russia demanded that NATO pledge never to admit Ukraine into the alliance or station forces there.
In its stipulations, Ukraine pushed for a ceasefire, the withdrawal of Russian troops and security guarantees for Ukraine from several countries.
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was up to the Ukrainians to decide how to take the talks forward, but added: “It is very important that in principle we cannot allow Russian aggression to triumph over any way.”
According to the Associated Press, an official in Mr. Zelensky’s office said the main topic of discussion between the warring countries was whether Russian troops would remain in breakaway areas of eastern Ukraine after the conflict and where the borders would be.
Ukraine wants one or more Western nuclear powers to be involved in the negotiations, with the outcome defined in a legally binding document.
kyiv would be ready to discuss a neutral status if these conditions are met, according to AP.
Domestically in Britain, ministers are under pressure to do more to help Ukrainian refugees congregating at the Polish border reach the UK.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey, in a letter to the Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary following a visit to Poland this week, called on the UK Government to provide free flights to those wishing come to Great Britain, with coaches to the Polish airports closest to the main border crossing points.
Meanwhile, more than 150,000 people have now expressed interest in the Homes for Ukraine scheme, Downing Street said.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said at the official launch of the scheme on Friday “we’ll see what that translates to”.
He said 6,100 visas had been issued through Ukraine’s family program as of Wednesday afternoon.