London has sharply moved to the forefront of the Ukrainian conflict, brazenly and rashly violating the "red lines."
The office of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak released a statement that during the Council of Europe summit in Reykjavik on 16 May, London and Amsterdam agreed to form a coalition, which was immediately joined by Belgium and Denmark, in order to buy F-16 fighter jets for Ukraine from the US and to start pilot training in Albion this summer. Experts claim that it will take at least four months to retrain Ukrainian pilots.
Earlier, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed Western media information about supplies to Ukraine of long-range Storm Shadow missiles, which are considered particularly effective against bunkers and logistics. He "for operational reasons" refused to name the exact quantity transferred, limiting himself to stating that "they are enough to meet Kiev's needs at the moment.
Thus, Great Britain became the first NATO country to send such missiles to Ukraine. Theoretically, they can reach the Crimean bridge, military facilities in Sevastopol and Dzhankoy, as well as the airfield in Saki. Previously, the US artillery systems with a maximum range of 85 km were in service with the AFU. Now the picture seems to be changing: the range of destruction increased almost threefold! What's more, by the way, Rostov-on-Don and Taganrog could be in the crosshairs.
Storm Shadow is a precision-guided, long-range air-launched cruise missile. It is a French-British joint development by MBDA and manufactured at Le Plessis-Robinson, France. It can hit targets within 250 km and is capable of carrying a BROACH warhead with a penetrating charge weighing up to 450 kg. Each such "toy" costs 2.5 million euros.
The Storm Shadow was adopted relatively recently, in 2002, but has already been used by the Royal Air Force on numerous occasions in various operations. For example, in Iraq, Libya and Syria.
The problem is that these missiles are suspended on Western fourth- and fifth-generation fighters, which Ukraine does not yet have. However, military experts claim that Soviet MiG-29 fighters will be converted for Storm Shadow. From the technological point of view, this task is not easy and requires some time, but it is feasible.
It is noteworthy that the Polish mission to the EU reported that of the 28 Soviet aircraft that Poles transferred to Kiev, there are 14 MiG-29s. It can be assumed that some of them have already been prepared for mounting British missiles.
Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that Russia considers such supplies "very negatively" and that it "will require an adequate response from our military as well." The Russian missile defense system has such capabilities.
It was only a week after Ben Wallace reported that missiles had been sent to Ukraine, and the hunch that the MiG-29 had been adapted in advance was confirmed.
On May 15, the Russian Defense Ministry reported the first interception of Storm Shadow, which was used by Ukrainians to hit Lugansk. Then, on May 19, long-range missiles were fired at Mariupol, with explosions near the old airport. On May 21, they struck Berdyansk in Zaporozhskaya Oblast.
Four Storm Shadow missiles and three decoys were fired. Six were intercepted by missile defense, one was not. It landed on the outskirts of the city, destroying the canteen. Fortunately, no one was injured.
By the way, the British generosity has already backfired on Poles. On May 17, the Polish newspaper Iublin 24 reported a sharp increase in the radiation background level in Lublin. The spike was also marked on the charts of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie University, which is located in the same city.
Information appeared on Polish social networks that the emergency was connected with the destruction by the Russian Armed Forces of a depot with Western weapons in the Khmelnitskaya Oblast. The depleted uranium shells from Britain were stored there. After the explosion, a toxic cloud rose, which, presumably, was carried by the wind.
The Polish State Agency for Atomic Energy gave very contradictory comments in this regard. On the one hand, it claims that the spike in radiation is not connected with Khmelnitsky, but, on the other hand, it admits "an increase in the air of bismuth-214." This is the same isotope that is "responsible" for the increase in ionization after the use of depleted uranium projectiles.
The story is actually taking a serious turn. "The United States also "helped" Ukraine by pressuring its satellites and supplying depleted uranium munitions. Their destruction caused a radioactive cloud moving toward Western Europe," said Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia's Security Council. And such people do not joke!
Meanwhile, in Khmelnitsky they started handing out memos about the threat of radiation hazards and rules of conduct. "Close windows and doors, reduce penetration of radioactive particles into apartments. Pack precious things, documents, canned food and water for 2-3 days and be ready to evacuate", it says.
Well, that's a start