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Britain sending helicopters to Ukraine ‘for first time’ since war began

Britain is sending helicopters to Ukraine for the first time, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has announced in an escalation of support for Kyiv’s resistance against Vladimir Putin (PA)
Britain is sending helicopters to Ukraine for the first time, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has announced in an escalation of support for Kyiv’s resistance against Vladimir Putin (PA)

Britain is sending helicopters to Ukraine for the first time, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has announced in an escalation of support for Kyiv’s resistance against Vladimir Putin.

Three former British military Sea Kings will be provided, with the first already in Ukraine, the PA news agency understands.

They are the first piloted aircraft to be sent by the UK since the Russian President’s invasion began in February.

Mr Wallace also said an extra 10,000 artillery rounds are being sent to help Ukraine secure the territory it has recaptured from the invading forces in recent weeks.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace
Mr Wallace is in Norway meeting allied defence ministers on the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier (PA)

The fresh support comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced £50 million more in defence aid as he visited Kyiv over the weekend.

During a visit to Norway, Mr 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 the UK 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.

Mr 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,” Mr Johnson told US broadcaster CNN.

“Be in no doubt that the French were in denial right up until the last moment.

Boris Johnson in Kyiv in August
Boris Johnson in Kyiv in August (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/PA)

“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.”