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Rishi Sunak urges German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to follow UK lead and send long range missiles to Ukraine

Rishi Sunak is urging Olaf Scholz to send Taurus long range missiles to Ukraine  (PA)
Rishi Sunak is urging Olaf Scholz to send Taurus long range missiles to Ukraine (PA)

Rishi Sunak is urging German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to send Taurus long range missiles to Ukraine.

Downing Street stressed that Britain had taken the lead in supplying Kyiv with long range missiles, with Storm Shadows, to defeat Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The UK was the first country to provide long range precision strike missiles to Ukraine.

“We would encourage our allies to do the same.

“We have been clear from the outset that the UK would provide Ukraine with the necessary aid, including lethal support, to defend itself and reclaim it’s sovereign territory.”

The comments from No10 came as Mr Scholz has faced growing pressure in Germany and among its allies to supply Taurus missiles to Ukraine.

In a hard-hitting intervention last week, former Defence Secretary Ben Wallace criticised the German Chancellor after the latter appeared to suggest British troops are helping Ukraine to fire long range missiles as he defended his decision not to supply the Taurus systems to Kyiv.The Cabinet minister argued that Mr Scholz “as the security of Europe goes is the wrong man, in the wrong job at the wrong time”.

Alicia Kearns, chair of the Commons foreign affairs committee, added: “Either we give Ukraine what it needs, or we will see more bloodshed and a complete failure of deterrence.

“We gave Storm Shadow, we all have to give what we can, Scholz should give Taurus and stop holding back the security of Europe.”

Downing Street declined to be drawn into the row sparked by German air force officers who were caught allegedly talking on an unencrypted call about British military support for Ukraine.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “It’s a matter for Germany to investigate and you have got Chancellor Scholz’s words on this. I think he said that it is clearly a very serious matter and that is why it is now being investigated very carefully.”

Lord Dannatt, former head of the British army, said the German officers should be "censured pretty heavily” for the incident which has sparked a storm in Berlin, London and Paris.

Mr Scholz is partly under growing pressure to send dozens of Taurus long-range missiles to Ukraine after the leak of the conversation reportedly involving his air force's chief Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz showed his country's military is willing to despatch the weapons.

But Germany’s military was particularly in the spotlight after a reported transcript of the talks, believed to have been released by Russia, appeared to give more details of how Britain and France are respectively supplying Storm Shadow and Scalp missiles to Kyiv.

Lord Dannatt told Times Radio: "I was very disappointed to read that story. I think the German air force officers who were talking on an open line, frankly, they should be censured pretty heavily.

"They are suggesting that there are British people in Ukraine. It's not for you or me to comment on that. We have provided a lot of equipment to them. We provided a lot of training.

"As far as I'm concerned, I think what they were talking about was whether they would or wouldn't supply a German system akin to our Storm Shadow. I suspect that we do our training on Storm Shadow, either in this country or in Poland or elsewhere. It's not for you or I to confirm or deny whether there are British military in Ukraine."

Meanwhile, Volodymyr Zelensky warned against "weak decisions" delaying military supplies as Mr Scholz faced mounting pressure to sent Taurus long-range missiles to Ukraine.

Mr Zelensky also shone the spotlight on Republicans in Washington blocking a huge military aid package for Ukraine which Joe Biden wants to despatch.

Ukraine's president stressed that if Putin was allowed to win the war he had unleashed on Ukraine more than two years ago it would "go down in history as one of the most shameful chapters".

After the latest Russian attacks which hit civilian areas, Mr Zelensky appealed to allies: "Every partner knows what is required. The main thing is political will to make it happen.

"To ensure a level of supplies that will help. If this doesn’t happen and America or Europe lose to Iranian "Shaheds" or Russian jets, it will go down in history as one of the most shameful chapters.

"Evil should never be encouraged. Neither by weak decisions, delays in supplies, or indecision."

Ukraine's president stressed further: "Despite the significant shortage of artillery, our heroic warriors are holding out against the onslaughts and defending their positions. It is extremely difficult. These are losses. This is pain.

"We are waiting for vital supplies, waiting specifically for an American decision. The support is crucially needed."

Britain has led the world in supplying Kyiv with military equipment, including anti-tank weapons, Challenger II tanks and long-range missiles.

Germany, while being slower to agree to provide weapons, is now the second largest military donor to Ukraine, behind the US.