Italy has given Ukraine long-range missiles, says UK defense minister

Italy has given Ukraine long-range missiles, says UK defense minister

ROME — Britain’s defense minister has stated that Italy has sent Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine, lifting the lid on months of secrecy surrounding Italy’s supply of weaponry to Kyiv.

Grant Shapps made the announcement while touring the factory in the UK where missile maker MBDA manufactures the Storm Shadow, which has been used by Ukrainian forces against Russian targets in Crimea and elsewhere.

“I do think the Storm Shadow has been an extraordinary weapon,” Shapps told The Times of London.

“It’s the UK, France and Italy positioning those weapons for use, particularly in Crimea. These weapons are making a very significant difference,” he said.

Britain has previously announced sending Storm Shadows to Ukraine, while France has announced sending its version of the missile, known as the SCALP-EG. But Italy has mostly declined to give any details on arms it sends to Ukraine and has never reported dispatching the MBDA missile.

On Monday a spokesperson with the Italian defense ministry declined to comment on Shapps’ remarks when asked by a Defense News reporter.

Italy first purchased the Storm Shadow from European missile house MBDA in 1999 and has received around 200, using them during NATO’s operation in Libya in 2011.

In January, Italy’s parliament voted to extend the supply of weaponry to Ukraine through 2024, despite disquiet amongst voters and opposition from some parties within parliament.

Hitherto, the country’s right-wing government has kept its list of arms packages for Ukraine secret, although it has reportedly planned to send Stinger surface-to-air missiles, mortars, Milan or Panzerfaust anti-tank weapons, Browning heavy machine guns, MG-type light machine guns, systems for countering improvised explosive devices, multiple-launch rocket systems, PzH 2000 howitzers and vehicles.

Last year the government announced it would send one Samp-T air defense system in conjunction with France.

Entering into service with the Italian Army in 2013, Samp-T is a truck-based tactical antimissile system designed to tackle cruise missiles, manned and unmanned aircraft and tactical ballistic missiles.

Italy has five systems.

Asked this month if Italy would respond to Ukrainian requests for another system given the uptick in Russian missile attacks in Ukraine, Italian foreign minister Antonio Tajani was noncommittal, stating, “We are doing everything we can to help Ukraine and give answers through the instruments we have.”

Speaking to The Times in the UK, Shapps also criticized Germany for holding back on sending Ukraine its Taurus cruise missile.

“France, Britain, and Italy have all shown that the Taurus, Storm Shadow, or Scalp are highly effective. While they’re in limited supply, Germany has many available. Therefore, yes, they should absolutely be provided. It would clearly make a significant impact,” he said.

Tom Kington is the Italy correspondent for Defense News.

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