‘Significant Portion’ of UK Lethal Aid for Ukraine Stays Secret

The announcement raises suspicion that Britain is sending more controversial weaponry to Ukraine that it does not want made public, Matt Kennard reports.

 Ministry of Defence headquarters in London. (Harland Quarrington, Defence Imagery, Flickr)

By Matt Kennard 
Declassified UK

A significant proportion of our lethal aid [for Ukraine] is procured overseas and for both operational and commercial reasons, the detail of these contracts will not be published,” the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has told Parliament.

The announcement raises suspicion that Britain is sending more controversial weaponry to Ukraine that it does not want made public.

Declassified first reported last week that the U.K. was sending ammunition containing depleted uranium to Ukraine. Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, responded by announcinghe would station tactical nuclear weapons in neighbouring Belarus. 

The MoD said the only contracts it will publish will be those with British companies for equipment replenishing existing stockpiles. 

It is unclear which foreign companies the government does not want to reveal its contracts with — or what weapons systems they are for.

The U.K. provided £2.4bn in military equipment to Ukraine in 2022 — more than any country other than the United States. It has committed to providing the same amount in 2023.

The U.K. has supplied 10,000 anti-tank weapons, including 5,500 NLAWs, which are designed by Saab in Sweden and made by French arms manufacturer Thales in Belfast. The U.K. has also provided Javelin and Brimstone missiles. 

U.K. lethal aid to Ukraine has also included thousands of surface-to-air missiles including Starstreak, again produced by Thales. 

“The U.K. arms export regime is defined by a chronic lack of transparency,” Katie Fallon, advocacy manager at Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), told Declassified

“That the public might never know how a large part of the weaponry budgeted for Ukraine is being spent, not only raises the risk of corruption, profiteering and procurement of inappropriate equipment, but it also reduces the ability of the U.K. public to provide badly needed scrutiny of government actions taken in their name.”


British M270 firing at the Otterburn training area in the north of England in 2015. (Jamie Peters/MOD, Wikimedia Commons)

Other U.K. supplies include military systems with the potential to reach into Russia from bases in Ukraine. 

This includes three M270 long-range multiple launch rocket systems, which have a range of up to 186 miles, putting Russian cities within range. 

In April 2022, U.K. Defence Minister James Heappey backed Ukraine carrying out strikes inside Russia using weapons provided by Britain.

Heappey said it was “completely legitimate for Ukraine to be targeting in Russia’s depth in order to disrupt the logistics that if they weren’t disrupted would directly contribute to death and carnage on Ukrainian soil.” 

U.K. Defence Minister James Heappey, left, with Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace in September 2022. (Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street)

Last month, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the U.K. would start providing Ukraine with “longer range capabilities” in its next package of military assistance in order to “disrupt Russia’s ability to continually target Ukraine’s civilian and critical national infrastructure and help relieve pressure on Ukraine’s frontlines.”

Details of those long-range capabilities were not provided. But they are believed to include the provision of Storm Shadow air-launched cruise missiles, which weigh 2,900 pounds and can travel up to 155 miles. They were used by the RAF during NATO’s 2011 war in Libya. 

BAE Systems

BAE Systems, the UK’s dominant arms company, notched up record orders of £37.1 billion last year amid what it called an “elevated threat environment” after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

The company said: “While it is tragic that it took a war in Europe to raise the awareness of the importance of defence around the globe, BAE Systems is well positioned to help national governments keep their citizens safe and secure in an elevated threat environment.”

U.K. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace recently said he met with BAE “a number of times” in 2022. “This has included one-to-one meetings, wider group meetings, such as the Defence Suppliers Forum, and site visits,” he said. “Support to Ukraine was discussed on most of these occasions including how the Ministry of Defence was supporting Ukraine directly”.

The MoD recently said it “continues to pursue all avenues to meet critical Ukrainian requirements at the quantities and pace required.”

Matt Kennard is chief investigator at Declassified UK. He was a fellow and then director at the Centre for Investigative Journalism in london. Follow him on twitter @kennardmatt

This article is from Declassified UK.

29 comments for “‘Significant Portion’ of UK Lethal Aid for Ukraine Stays Secret

  1. fulvio margoni
    April 6, 2023 at 11:43

    Heappey said it was “completely legitimate for Ukraine to be targeting in Russia’s depth in order to disrupt the logistics that if they weren’t disrupted would directly contribute to death and carnage on Ukrainian soil.” 

    since Minister GB considers it perfectly legitimate to destroy Russia’s logistics with NATO weapons and technicians, I imagine that he will consider it “fully legitimate” for Russia to destroy Ukraine’s logistics in depth i.e. on NATO territories, in particular the CITY …

  2. DHFabian
    April 5, 2023 at 14:37

    When Zelensky’s forces attack Donetsk, Luhansk, etc., what country is att5acking which?

  3. CaseyG
    April 5, 2023 at 12:54

    Red Star:

    Hmmm… “the UK is doing the will of the people.”

    Of course that could mean will, ( as in what the people want,) OR “Will,” ‘ as in what is left after death.”

    Sadly, I think the 2nd meaning , ” Will, ” as in what is left after death——- makes the most sense as I see how badly those in the UK are living now in the same way as Americans . : (

    • Valerie
      April 6, 2023 at 10:41

      You’re right CaseyG. And in both examples their “testaments” are worthless. As a “escapee” of the UK for over 40 years, i am shocked to see how influenced it has become by American “ideals”.

  4. Mile
    April 5, 2023 at 04:53

    GB and USA/ NATO will go much, much further in this, by them purposefully and dolos caused war in Ukraine. The old strategic (especially US) goal is to crush Russia and plunder the vast Siberian mineral resources.
    Even Henry Kissinger has stated this publicly. He took the liberty of saying this after he had already retired a long time ago. This video was “removed” by the censors.

    Because they will not be able to defeat the invincible (Russians, Russia will not remain alone) this war will have devastating consequences for the USA/ GB/ NATO.

    Did the U.S. Carry Out a Ukrainian Coup?
    (Gründer von consortiumsnews.com)

    Dr. Daniele Ganser: Ukraine 2014, ein illegaler Putsch (Berlin 10.5.2015)

  5. Paula
    April 4, 2023 at 18:53

    I find it quite difficult to understand why Ukrainians are allowing themselves to be used in this way. None of the bas. . . s are sending their sons or daughters, or soldiers unless doing so secretly. Have Ukrainians no self respect? They don’t deserves to be used like this. It’s like they are all wives to battering husbands and cannot seem to escape.

    • DHFabian
      April 5, 2023 at 15:05

      Not so hard to understand. The Ukraine was a region of western Russia from the 1700s until the USSR collapsed in 1991 – and Western interests began pouring in. It’s a small country, roughly the size of Texas alone, with a largely ethnic Russian population. The country is split between those who want to align with the West and those who want to maintain their alliance with Russia. It has remained in a state of conflict for years. Learn about the US role in Ukraine’s 2014 coup, in installing Zelensky (who is not ethnic Russian) in 2019, and in financing and directing (arming, etc.) Zelensky’s war.

  6. Paula
    April 4, 2023 at 18:38

    Britain is as big an arse and worse as the US. I’ve read some of what their MI5 and MI6 do and have done. Sticks like a sewer. US and Britain two poisonous peas in a pod.

    • Eddy
      April 5, 2023 at 01:39

      From whence do you think the Yanks get all their ideas from in the first place ?? Britain is the epi center of all these wars everywhere.
      They, (as does America) need some repercussions happening on their own soil, to bring home the ramifications of what they’re doing.

  7. CaseyG
    April 4, 2023 at 18:22

    I agree with you about capitalism—-the ruin of so many nations. However, I think that capitalism is the wrong word. CRAPitalism is so much more clear. To understand that is to understand what is happening to our world.

    • DHFabian
      April 5, 2023 at 15:08

      Ah, but if not for capitalism, liberals wouldn’t have been able to maintain their campaign of middle class elitism all these years.

  8. Daryl
    April 4, 2023 at 13:24

    When we were sick kids we had to rid the orchard of gophers. We would catch them then have contests, betting on our gopher.
    To get them to fight we would squirt gasoline on their rears.
    The bone crunching of their bite to the death still haunts me.
    This proxy war is our sick entertainment as adults. Testing out our latest octane weapons of destruction.

  9. Eric Foor
    April 4, 2023 at 12:18

    This is further circumstantial evidence of the “Permanent government” that supersedes all our elected officials. This “High Cabal” or “Power Elite” is fueled by a thoughtless motivation to degrade and consume the resources of the Earth as fast as is possible. The machine that does this best, by far, is Capitalism…and the political, financial and military structures that support it. In the West, the last 200 years have been a wild party based on the success of this model…but, as a result, there are now too many humans and we are running out of resources. We are overheating the planet.

    We are being directed to blame someone. That “someone” are countries that have opted for different consumption models. Those countries are not necessarily right….but they are in the path of our insatiable desire to burn out of control. We are all (the entire planet) a part of the problem. In the West, we are rightly proud of our freedoms and our democracy…but we are mindlessly using those attributes to stoke the fire.

    I am confident we can balance our lives and our planet by directing our actions to reduce (not stop) our rate of material consumption.

    • Edgar Schmid
      April 5, 2023 at 01:45

      Supported your post until I reached the bit about “Freedoms” and “Democracy.” I’m 73 years of age and a war veteran, I fail to see any “Democracy” in the Western World, just as I fail to see any “Freedom” either. As long as we convince ourselves, we’re being Governed under a “Democracy” and are allegedly “Free” to do so, we will NEVER change anything.

  10. April 4, 2023 at 10:57

    Vladimir Putin, the Ruswsian president, responded by announcing he would station tactical nuclear weapons in neighbouring Belarus.
    The USA has B61 tactical guided nuclear weapons stored across Europe in Belgium, Germay, Italy, The Netherlands, and Turkey. Anti-missile defense systems in Romania and Poland capable of firing the SM-3 surfae-to-air interceptor missile, and the sea-launched Tomahawk-C cruise missile.

  11. Robert Sinuhe
    April 4, 2023 at 10:38

    What is particularly dismaying is that the UK insists on putting their words and actions into the mouth and actions of Vladimir Putin and the Russian government in creating a fiction for their action. To make matters worse the UK says it’s doing the will of the people? What people are they referring to? Finally, sending offensive weapons to attack Russia is presumably defensive?

    • Red Star
      April 4, 2023 at 17:13

      “To make matters worse the UK says it’s doing the will of the people? What people are they referring to?”

      Presumably the 43% of the electorate who actually voted for the Tories at the last general election. The 57% majority who didn’t vote Tory get it anyway… democracy in action ?

      Although of course, none of the electorate actually voted for a Tory government led by Sunak.

      The bad (even worse) news is that the “opposition”, Labour, have made clear that they will replicate the Tories warmongering, should they gain power.

      Even the England and Welsh Greens have rescinded their former policy of withdrawal from NATO (thouth the Scottish Greens retain it).

  12. James White
    April 4, 2023 at 09:49

    U.K. is challenging Ukraine for most corrupt regime in Europe. But both pale in comparison with the war mongering Biden Regime.

    • Valerie
      April 6, 2023 at 11:06

      So it really begs the question why the Ukraine is even considered a proposed member of the EU and/or NATO. Turkey, i seem to recall, was rejected from EU membership because of its propensity for the spectacle of “dancing bears”.

  13. Paul Citro
    April 4, 2023 at 08:52

    UK government will not be held accountable to the people of the country. It will do as it pleases regardless of what you want.

    • Valerie
      April 4, 2023 at 10:20

      That’s why, as a Brit said to me the other day, they do not protest like the French, because they know it will have no effect. (Having said that, the French retirement age protests seem to have died a death.)

      • Red Star
        April 4, 2023 at 17:20

        @Valerie : Some truth in that. Back at the start of the Iraq war Britain saw its biggest ever protest, 1 million+ in London, plus local protests… but it achieved nothing at all. Blair wanted to go to war, and was willing to lie in order to do so.

        I think the French protests continue, BTW. Socialist Worker (online) carries an interesting article :

        “Frederic Lordon: the French thinker celebrating strikes

        Massive strikes and protests are leading intellectuals in France, like Frederic Lordon, to come to more hopeful conclusions”

        • Valerie
          April 5, 2023 at 03:52

          Thankyou Red Star for the suggested article. I especially like this quote from it:

          “Now Lordon celebrates a society in insurrection. “It’s beautiful what happens when the ruling order starts to unravel. Small but incredible things occur that shatter the resigned isolation and atomisation on which the powerful rely.””

          The WSWS has a few articles too. I think more protests are scheduled for Thursday.
          (But Macron is off to China with Von der Leyden)

  14. April 4, 2023 at 07:24

    Mi sembra che la volontà degli anglo-americani non sia indirizzata per una soluzione di pace. Vogliono distruggere la Russia dalla cartina geografica, con la complicità dell’Unione Europea. Purtroppo l’ONU è legato agli USA, così non si risolvono i problemi del pianeta terra.

    • Garrett Connelly
      April 4, 2023 at 11:16

      Grazie per la percezione italiana e la chiarezza umana.

  15. Mikael Andersson
    April 4, 2023 at 06:50

    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Where UK weapons are used to attack deep into Russia I feel it reasonable that Russia obliterates anything coming across the Polish border. To echo BAE, that would “help (the Russian) government keep its citizens safe and secure in an elevated threat environment.” Frankly, any weapon coming over that border is a legitimate target. Australia is also sending weapons rather than humanitarian aid, which I find to be complicity in the war. Here it’s part of our “industry policy”. Our ABC was yesterday lauding the significance of a Canberra-made remote weapons system to be sent to Ukraine in $120m direct military sale (hxxps://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-04-03/australian-company-eos-systems-weapons-ukraine-war/102181526).

    • James White
      April 4, 2023 at 19:05

      Just because the U.S. and its’ paid ‘allies’ are all ganging up in order to get their licks in on Russia, they should never expect that any of these individual acts of war are lost on Russia. What goes around, comes around.

  16. Lois Gagnon
    April 3, 2023 at 19:23

    As if Britain gives a damn about protecting the people of Ukraine. They are arming Ukraine to destroy Russia. Last ditch effort to salvage what’s left of a crumbling empire. Bye, bye.

  17. Winston Smithy
    April 3, 2023 at 18:10

    What do you think this is, a democracy?

Comments are closed.