(CTN News) – The transfer of two minehunter ships from the UK to Ukraine marks a significant development in the country’s efforts to enhance its presence in the Black Sea amidst Russia’s invasion.
The UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) officially announced the procurement of these vessels by Ukraine, as part of a newly established Maritime Capability Coalition led by Britain and Norway.
The primary objective of this coalition is to provide long-term military assistance to strengthen security in the Black Sea region.
Given the prolonged period of conflict, there has been a growing emphasis on maritime operations. Ukraine has specifically targeted Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which is stationed in the annexed Crimea peninsula, as it seeks to utilize ships for exporting grain.
The UK, being an island nation with a rich maritime heritage, is well-suited to support this endeavor. The transfer of these warships is seen as a crucial initial step in a series of new coalitions formed among allies to ensure a sustained military commitment in support of Ukraine.
Grant Shapps, the UK Defence Secretary, emphasized the significance of these vessels in this context.
Shapps stated that these minehunters will provide crucial capability to Ukraine,
Resulting in the preservation of lives at sea and the restoration of vital export routes that have been severely restricted due to Putin’s illegal full-scale invasion.
This increase in capability signifies the commencement of a new joint effort by the UK, Norway, and our allies to strengthen Ukraine’s maritime capabilities in the long run. It aims to enhance their capacity to defend their sovereign waters and reinforce security in the Black Sea.
Additionally, the coalition will collaborate with the Ukrainian Navy to expand its presence in the Black Sea, establish a Ukrainian Marine Corps, and improve the utilization of river patrol craft to safeguard inland and coastal waterways, as stated by the ministry.
The agreement for the two minehunters between the UK and Ukraine was made in June 2021, before Russia’s full-scale invasion.
Ukrainian soldiers have been undergoing training on these ships since last year. Furthermore, London has provided military training courses to approximately 20,000 Ukrainians in the past year.
Ukraine has acquired the two Sandown-class mine countermeasures vessels with the assistance of UK Export Finance. The United Kingdom stands as the second-largest contributor of military aid to Ukraine, following the United States.