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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at an event

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks in front of a live video feed showing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on May 5, 2022 in London. (Photo: Chris J. Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

Anti-War Coalition Warns New UK Rockets Will Only 'Prolong the Misery' in Ukraine

The Stop the War Coalition said the British government should be demanding "a ceasefire and the recommencement of peace talks," not arming Ukraine with long-range rockets.

Jake Johnson

An anti-war coalition based in the United Kingdom warned Monday that the British government's decision to follow in the Biden administration's footsteps and supply Ukraine with longer-range rocket systems risks extending—and potentially intensifying—Russia's deadly war.

The move, announced Monday by U.K. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, could usher in "a wider and still worse conflict," said Andrew Murray, deputy president of the Stop the War Coalition.

"Sending in such long-range missiles risks escalating the conflict."

The U.K. "should change course and start pushing for a ceasefire and peace talks," Murray added.

The Guardian reported that "like the U.S., the U.K. has sought assurances from Kyiv that the [rocket systems] would not be used to strike targets within Russia."

The British government's decision was made public just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened that Russian forces would target "objects that we haven't yet struck" if Western governments arm Ukraine with long-range missile systems, a warning that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov echoed on Monday.

Last week, the Biden administration announced that it would send Ukraine the Lockheed Martin-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, which can strike targets roughly 50 miles away.

The M270 weapon system that the British government is set to deliver has about the same range. In a statement, the U.K. Ministry of Defence said the "cutting edge" multiple-launch rocket systems "can strike targets up to 80km away with pinpoint accuracy" and "will offer a significant boost in capability for the Ukrainian forces."

But the Stop the War Coalition—which has characterized Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the West's response as an increasingly dangerous proxy conflict between nuclear-armed states—argued that sending such artillery to Ukrainian forces "will only prolong the misery of the war."

"Sending in such long-range missiles risks escalating the conflict," the coalition said. "Vladimir Putin has threatened that Russia would retaliate by striking new targets in Ukraine."

Far from encouraging a diplomatic resolution to Russia's invasion—which reached the 100-day mark last week—U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to abandon peace talks with Moscow during a visit to Kyiv in April.

Having made tenuous progress up to that point, diplomatic negotiations fell completely apart shortly after Johnson's trip as Russia ramped up its assault on eastern Ukraine.

"Rather than sending extra missiles to Ukraine, which is already awash with foreign artillery, the government should be urging for a ceasefire and the recommencement of peace talks," the Stop the War Coalition said Monday. "We continue to call on the British government to stop fueling the escalation of conflict in Ukraine and demand that it calls for a negotiated peace immediately."

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