Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (right) greets Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky at Chequers, the prime minister's official country residence, near Ellesborough, northwest of London, on May 15, 2023. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Britain on Monday to meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who pledged "hundreds" of both air-defence missiles and long-range attack drones to fend off Russia's attacks. Image Credit: AFP

MOSCOW: The Russian defence ministry said Monday that it had downed a long-range Storm Shadow missile fired by Ukrainian forces that had been provided by the UK.

“Air defence systems intercepted seven HARM anti-radar missiles, one Storm Shadow long-range cruise missile” as well as 10 projectiles fired by HIMARS, Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a briefing, referring to the last 24 hours.

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Russia takes an “extremely negative” view of Britain’s decision to supply Ukraine with more military hardware such as long-range attack drones, but does not believe London’s help will change the course of the conflict, the Kremlin said on Monday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Britain on Monday with a promise of long range attack drones on top of cruise missiles pledged last week, as he tours Europe to try to source new arms for a counter-offensive against Russia.

Asked about Britain’s military aid, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We take an extremely negative view of this. Britain is trying to be one of the leading countries which keeps pumping weapons into Ukraine.” He said the impact of Britain’s military aid would not be significant and would ultimately only make things worse for Ukraine.

“It cannot have any significant or major impact on the course of the Special Military Operation,” he said, using the phrase the Kremlin uses to describe Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine.

“But it all leads to more destruction, to further military action and so on. So for Ukraine, it makes things much more complex.” The Russian defence ministry was cited on Monday by Russian news agencies as saying its air defence forces had shot down a British-supplied Storm Shadow cruise missile fired by Ukraine.

Reuters was unable to confirm the report.

Zelensky says he needs all the weapons he can get if Ukraine’s long-expected counter-offensive is to meet all of its goals.

Very positive

After meeting British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Zelensky said he was hopeful of securing a quick deal to get fighter jets from Western partners, Zelensky confirmed the pair talked about the issue during a meeting at the prime minister’s country retreat northwest of London.

Afterwards he said he was “very positive” about creating a “jets coalition” for the war against Russia and that a decision would come “in the closest time”.

“You will hear some I think very important decisions,” he said in English but added that “a little bit more” work was needed until then.

Zelensky in February gave a much-acclaimed speech to the UK parliament in which he pleaded for Western jets, on only his second trip overseas since the war began.

His tour of European capitals starting last week has helped Ukraine secure more promises from France and Germany of military aid before an expected Ukrainian counter-offensive.

But NATO members have so far drawn a line at sending Kyiv modern fighter jets.

Nevertheless, Sunak confirmed that Britain would help Ukraine to train “combat-ready pilots” as part of its support package.

“We’re ready to implement those plans in relatively short order,” he told reporters.

Sunak said he would talk to other countries’ leaders about aircraft support at the upcoming Council of Europe and G7 meetings this week.

His Downing Street office meanwhile confirmed that Britain would in the coming months send “hundreds” of both air defence missiles and long-range attack drones with a range of more than 200 kilometres (125 miles) to fend off Russia’s attacks.

Last week, Britain became the first Western country to offer long-range cruise missiles to Ukraine, with its Storm Shadow rockets.

Dressed in his trademark military fatigues, Zelensky gave a bear hug to Sunak when he stepped off a Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter in the grounds of Chequers.

Before the talks, Zelensky tweeted that Britain was a “leader when it comes to expanding our capabilities on the ground and in the air”.

Sunak pledged Britain’s long-term security support for Ukraine.

“The frontlines of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s war of aggression may be in Ukraine but the fault lines stretch all over the world,” he said.

“It is in all our interest to ensure Ukraine succeeds and Putin’s barbarism is not rewarded.”