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UK to supply 10,000 more drones to Ukraine, Grant Shapps announces

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The UK will supply 10,000 more drones to Ukraine, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has announced during his third visit to the war-torn country.

The move is a further £125m worth of investment on top of the £200m drone package announced by the prime minister in January.

The latest supply is made up mainly of first-person view (FPV) drones, as well as 1,000 one-way attack drones and surveillance and maritime drones.

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The Ministry of Defence (MOD) said the drones have proven highly effective on the battlefield since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine two years ago, helping to target enemy positions, armoured vehicles and Russia’s navy.

Mr Shapps said: “I am ramping up our commitment to arm Ukraine with cutting-edge new drones coming directly from the UK’s world-leading defence industries – straight from the factory floor to the frontline.

“Ukraine’s Armed Forces are using UK donated weapons to unprecedented effect, to help lay waste to nearly 30% of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.”

He added: “On my third visit to this great country, I was pleased to be able to offer my firm reassurance to President Zelenskyy on the UK’s unwavering commitment to the brave people and military forces of Ukraine.”

Mr Shapps said he encouraged “international partners to join the UK in this effort”.

Screen grab taken from video posted on the twitter feed of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky of an audience he held with Defence Secretary Grant Shapps in Kyiv, Ukraine. Issue date: Thursday September 28, 2023.
Image:
Grant Shapps meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in September. Pic: PA

Speaking later to broadcasters, he was asked about French President Emmanuel Macron urging Europe not to be “cowards” and not ruling out sending troops to Ukraine.

Mr Shapps said what Ukraine needs most is ammunition not “boots on the ground”, adding: “That’s not in the picture.”

“For now, what they need is the equipment. What they need is for more countries to step up, as the United Kingdom has done from the outset.”

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Macron warns allies ‘not to be cowardly’

The defence secretary also revealed that the German Defence Minister, Boris Pistorius, called him “the next day and explained the situation” after a call between the country’s top army officials was leaked by Russian sources.

Germany’s ambassador to the UK has said there is “no need” to apologise after the recording revealed the head of the air force discussing secret details about alleged British troops in Ukraine.

UK military sources and other NATO allies have expressed serious concerns over the security breach which German chancellor Olaf Scholz described as “very serious”.

Asked if he had received an apology over the leak, Mr Shapps said: “I certainly don’t want to get into private conversations, but suffice to say, my opposite number, the German defence minister, called me the next day and explained the situation.”

Asked if Mr Pistorius had apologised, he repeated that he is “not going to go into private conversations” but added: “I can tell you that he was immediately in contact with me and other allies.

“The absolute key point here is that the world is working together.”

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