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Former Armed Forces Minister Says UK Must Boost Ukraine Aid For Decisive Victory

James Heappey (Credit: Jeff Gilbert / Alamy Stock Photo)

3 min read

Recent military aid packages to Ukraine will not be enough to ensure a decisive victory in the war with Russia, former armed forces minister James Heappey has said.

This week, the UK announced an extra £500m aid package to Ukraine, bringing the total amount of military aid pledged by Britain to £3bn this financial year. The US also passed its long-awaited $61bn aid package to Ukraine, held up by Republican delays through Congress.

However, writing in The House magazine, Heappey said that “more aid packages like the ones unveiled this week will be needed” to ensure Ukraine’s victory.

“What this aid package won’t do is immediately tip the balance, allowing the Ukrainians to go on to a final offensive that brings a quick and complete victory," he wrote.

"My expectation is that with this huge inflow of Western support we’ll see the frontlines stabilise and, while the fighting will be fierce, I don’t expect to see significant amounts of territory traded this year.” 

Included in the UK aid package are a mix of 1,600 strike and air defence missiles, 4m rounds of ammunition and a number of Storm Shadow long-range cruise missiles. The package will also include 400 all-terrain and armoured vehicles, 60 fast raiding craft as well as an undisclosed number of battlefield drones.

“This will mean that the defence of Ukraine’s current lines will be more sustainable – particularly as these missiles allow the Ukrainians to disrupt Russian logistics and target their command and control,” Heappey continued.

But to achieve a quick and decisive offensive, Heappey said Ukrainian brigades, “need to be matched by at least the same number of brigades again and to be trained in complicated manoeuvre that synchronises their movement with artillery fire, air support and everything else that can be thrown at the Russians”, and that, “it will be at least 2025 before that force is ready; it could even be 2026”.

Ukrainian soldiers on the frontline have complained in recent months of being forced to ration ammunition in the face of an increasingly confident, well-armed Russia. However, efforts  in the US to pass legislation approving aid to Ukraine have been hampered by opposition among Republicans, with former president Donald Trump saying foreign aid should not be a “giveaway”.

Heappey condemned the “complacency” of those thinking that “the current stalemate is the inevitable outcome”, writing that, “that complacency is every bit as dangerous as the defeatism that’s crept into other parts of the donor community, where some whisper that the Ukrainian cause is hopeless.

“Vladimir Putin would have hoped that this complacency, defeatism, or both, would have spread around the donor community – catalysed by the paralysis in Congress. He may have even dared to dream that the United States might cease its aid programme altogether and that other countries would follow suit. The arrival of this material, no matter how delayed, will have an impact on the mindset in Moscow every bit as much as it will the frontline.”

“If we stick with Ukraine I remain as convinced as ever that they can and will win. And win they must, because they’re fighting for security across the whole European-Atlantic region. A stalemate or, heaven forbid a Ukrainian defeat, promises a new cold war that will last for decades and cost trillions of dollars more.”

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