"As Russia's tactics change, so must our support to Ukraine," says Ben Wallace as UK sends long-range missiles

The UK is sending its first long-range missiles to Ukraine, the defence secretary has said, despite a threat from Russia to the West, the BBC reports.

Ben Wallace said the M270 multiple-launch rocket system will help Ukraine defend itself against Russia. The UK government has not confirmed how many weapons will be sent, but the BBC understands it will be three initially. The decision was co-ordinated with the US, which announced last week it was also supplying a rocket system.

The move by the US has already angered Moscow and on Sunday Vladimir Putin threatened to expand the list of targets Russia will attack in Ukraine if Western countries send long-range weapons to Kyiv.

The UK government said the Ukrainian military will be trained in how to use the launchers in the UK in the coming weeks.

Announcing the move, Mr Wallace said the UK was taking a leading role in supplying Ukrainian troops with the "vital weapons they need to defend their country from unprovoked invasion," adding "As Russia's tactics change, so must our support to Ukraine. These highly capable multiple-launch rocket systems will enable our Ukrainian friends to better protect themselves against the brutal use of long-range artillery, which Putin's forces have used indiscriminately to flatten cities."

Britain and America have led the way in supplying weapons to Ukraine, but giving it advanced long range rockets marks a significant shift, said the BBC's defence correspondent Jonathan Beale.

It is also a recognition that Ukraine is struggling to compete against Russia's vast artillery arsenal, he added.

The UK's multiple launch rocket system can fire 12 surface-to-surface missiles within a minute and can strike targets at distances of up to 50 miles (80km) with pinpoint accuracy - far further than the artillery Ukraine currently possesses.

It is similar to the system the US is sending, the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).

Last week Washington said it would supply four HIMARS multiple rocket launchers to Ukraine - following receipt of guarantees they would be used for defensive purposes only and not to strike targets inside Russia.The same restriction applies to the use of the UK's M270 system.

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