UK boosts aid trade package to support Ukraine in Russian conflict


By Aditi Khanna
London, April 26 (PTI) New ambulances, fire engines, funds for health experts and vital medical supplies are being donated to Ukraine as part of the UK’s ‘unwavering solidarity’ in the ongoing conflict with Russia, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday.
According to Downing Street, there have been more than 130 attacks on health facilities since the Russian-Ukrainian conflict began in February and the United Nations (UN) has recorded around 4,800 civilian casualties. More than 100 fire stations and 250 fire engines were also destroyed in Ukraine.
“We have all been appalled by the abhorrent images of hospitals deliberately targeted by Russia since the invasion began more than two months ago,” Johnson said.
“The new ambulances, fire engines and funding for health experts announced today will better equip the people of Ukraine to deliver lifesaving health care and save lives. With our military support, we will help strengthen Ukraine’s ability to ensure [Russian President] Putin’s brutal invasion fails,” he said.
On Monday, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace gave an update in the House of Commons on military aid provided to Ukraine, which to date has received more than 5,000 anti-tank missiles, five air defense systems with more than 100 missiles, 1,360 anti-structure munitions and 4.5 tonnes of plastic explosives by the UK.
“And in response to President Putin’s indiscriminate aerial bombardment and escalation of forces, on March 9, I announced that the UK would supply high and low velocity Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles. I am able to ‘to announce to the House that these have been in theater for more than three weeks and they have been deployed and used by Ukrainian forces to defend themselves and their territory,’ he told parliament.
The minister confirmed a new “gift” of a small number of armored vehicles equipped with anti-aircraft missile launchers, or Stormer vehicles, which will give Ukrainian forces enhanced short-range anti-aircraft capabilities day and night.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused the NATO military alliance, of which the UK is a member, of engaging in a proxy war and said the weapons supplied by the West to Ukraine would be fair targets. The UK has argued that it is “perfectly legitimate” for Ukraine to use weapons against Russian military targets given the attacks it faces.
Meanwhile, new trade measures have also been put in place by the UK Department for International Trade (DIT), which has declared that all customs duties on goods imported from Ukraine will now be reduced to zero and that all quotas will be abolished within the framework of the free trade agreement, provided that Ukraine’s economic support in their “hour of need”.
“We steadfastly support Ukraine in this ongoing fight and we will work to ensure Ukraine’s survival and prosperity as a free and sovereign nation,” Commerce Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said.
This decision follows a direct request from the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to liberalize tariffs and support the Ukrainian economy. It is expected that the removal of tariffs on key Ukrainian exports, including barley, honey, canned tomatoes and poultry, will help Ukrainian businesses and producers.
“The Kremlin continues to lie about the deliberate attacks on Ukrainian hospitals and the indiscriminate targeting of civilians. Now our vital humanitarian support will help save lives and provide frontline medical expertise,” added UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
Frontline medical aid charity UK-Med will receive funding – worth up to £300,000 – from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to help train Ukrainian doctors, nurses and paramedics on how to deal with the massive casualties.
They will also set up mobile health clinics to support the most vulnerable civilians remaining in Ukraine, including the elderly and young children.
The UK is also donating 300,000 pounds of medicines and pharmaceutical supplies to UK-Med, which could sustain a hospital for up to six weeks. PTI AK MRJ MRJ

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