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Shapps urges Western nations to allow their weapons to be used in Crimea

By PA News

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Grant Shapps has urged Germany and other allies to give Volodymyr Zelensky permission to use their weapons to strike targets in Crimea.

The Defence Secretary refused to confirm whether the UK would allow weapons supplied to Ukraine to be used against targets in Russia, but said they were being fired against Vladimir Putin’s forces in annexed Crimea.

Mr Shapps said Mr Putin was “bluffing” his way through the war in Ukraine but that he was “extremely concerned” about the burgeoning alliance between the Russian leader and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

The UK has supplied long-range Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine and other allies have provided similar weapons.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said allies should follow the UK in allowing weapons to be used in Crimea (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said allies should follow the UK in allowing weapons to be used in Crimea (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Mr Shapps told Sky News’ Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips: “The United Kingdom has been very forward-leaning about the way that our weapons are used, including – and other countries didn’t initially do this, but then followed our lead – in Crimea, which we see as an integral part of Ukraine, the fact it was invaded by Putin in 2014 doesn’t change that.

“I cannot go into decisions about how weapons are permissioned, but I can say this: Ukraine is in a fight for its survival. The United Kingdom has led the way. We are very helpful, therefore, to our Ukrainian friends and we encourage others to do the same.”

He added: “What I’d like to see is all of our partners, including Germany, who do have the facility to provide those longer-range weapons but don’t allow them to be used in Crimea – which is part of Ukraine – I think those are the things which would need to happen first.”

The Russian Black Sea Fleet and targets in Crimea were targeted by Ukraine on Saturday night.

Pressed on Kyiv’s calls for Western weapons to be available for strikes inside Russia, Mr Shapps told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg: “I can’t go into the specifics of those private conversations about how the weapons are precisely used.”

Mr Shapps said the delay in the US Congress approving an aid package had allowed Mr Putin’s forces to mount an offensive around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city.

He argued it was important the West “does not blink” because Russia would be unable to keep up operations indefinitely.

He told the BBC: “Putin, in many ways, is bluffing this war by putting his entire economy onto a war footing in a way that actually isn’t sustainable for Russia over the years that he would have to continue it for.

“So, very important that the West does not blink. And when you see what’s happened in Kharkiv, the second biggest city in Ukraine, it is because, I’m afraid, the civilised world took their eyes off the ball just for a little while, and we saw how long it took to get that package through the US Congress because of internal politics there, and this is the actual upshot.

“This is the result of waiting.”

Following Mr Putin’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Mr Shapps said: “I’m extremely concerned about this because remember these are two countries that do not believe in democracy and Putin literally murders his opponents, that’s his MO, that’s how he operates.

“China doesn’t share our values of freedom and democracy, their entire purpose is to keep the Communist Party in place.

“So, if you have that situation, and they’re trying to spread their system to the rest of the world, we must see and have our eyes wide open that that is a direct threat to our way of life.

“If we cherish our freedom, cherish our democracy, then we have to be concerned that they’re linking together – and not just that Russia with Iran and using Iranian Shahed drones and the link to North Korea, buying North Korean weapons.”

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