By Haley Britzky, CNN
(CNN) — Ukraine has “successfully” used the Storm Shadow missiles provided by the United Kingdom, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told CNN on Thursday.
“All I can confirm is it has been used successfully, that is the information I received from the Ukrainians, and I’m pleased it is helping them to defend their country,” Wallace told CNN’s Jim Sciutto in an exclusive interview on “News Central.”
The Storm Shadow missiles, the longest-range weapon in Ukraine’s arsenal, were just recently given to Kyiv ahead of an anticipated counteroffensive against the Russian military. The long-range cruise missile has stealth capabilities and a firing range of more than 250km, or 155 miles.
Asked about a potential counteroffensive and Ukrainian attempt to retake Crimea from Russia, Wallace said that under international law, Ukraine has “every right to do that in accordance of self-defense.”
“It’s their sovereign soil,” he said. “It’s a bit like you asking me if the US were choosing to take back parts of Texas from an enemy that had invaded it. You wouldn’t take anyone else from abroad telling you what you can and can’t take back. It is Ukrainian soil, it is their sovereign territory, it has been invaded, they’ve lost thousands of lives as a result of that invasion, and I think ultimately it will be Ukraine’s decision.”
“Britain isn’t going to stand in the way of that,” he added.
In the last several days, Russia has continued pounding Ukraine with missiles, killing one civilian and injuring two others in Odesa overnight. Ukraine, however, has maintained that they have been able to knock down many of Russia’s missiles before impact, particularly in the capital of Kyiv.
On Tuesday morning, Russia launched an “exceptional” assault on Kyiv which largely intercepted by Ukrainian air defenses.
Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, said Tuesday that Russia launched six Kh-47M2 Kinzhal aeroballistic missiles from MiG-31K aircraft, nine Kaliber cruise missiles from the Black Sea, and three land-based missiles.
While the battle rages, there has been confusion on whether Ukraine’s counteroffensives against Russia has started yet – though that may be the point. US and NATO-supplied equipment has continued pouring into the country, and Wallace said Thursday that the international community’s support of Ukraine is only growing stronger.
“The direction of travel of the international community is actually stronger than it’s ever been,” he said. “The type of Western systems begin gifted is another sign of a strong determination to make sure Russia gets the message that we ain’t going anywhere.”
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