Much more difficult to deliver military equipment to Ukraine, says Minister of Armed Forces

Due to ongoing combat operations, Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said the routes for Ukrainians to get resources into the country were becoming increasingly difficult.

In a wide-ranging interview with Forces News, Mr Heappey also distanced himself from Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’ comment over the weekend that she would “absolutely” support British nationals who choose to go to Ukraine to help fight the Russian invasion.

Former army officer Mr Heappey reiterated that British nationals ‘for whatever reason should not travel to Ukraine’, but provided an update on how UK forces are supporting Ukraine.

Mr Heappey said: “Since we made the initial delivery of 2,000 NLAW anti-tank missiles, we’ve actually brought more stuff forward, uniforms, protective gear, ammunition and weapons.

“We are now reaching a stage where, because combat operations are ongoing, the routes for the Ukrainians to get materiel into the country are much more difficult.

“It kind of has to be something that we say we do, we don’t necessarily tell you exactly what, where, when and how.”

The former army officer noted that Britons, especially servicemen and women who have a “deep sense of wanting to do the right thing”, need to know a lot is going on.

He said: “They must know that there are a lot of people in the Royal Air Force stealing a lot of important stuff, not just from the UK but from other European partners.

“There are British soldiers in other European countries, mainly in Poland, where these things (resources) are received and then what happens next is not for public consumption.”

Watch: James Heappey spoke to Forces News last week about the continued arms supply from the UK to Ukraine.

Mr Heappey spoke about rethinking the shape of our armed forces and addressed any potential increase in defense spending, following recent news that the Germans are set to increase theirs.

He said: “The armor is defeated very easily because those Turkish Bayraktar drones that the Ukrainians are using with such deadly effect are hitting them.

“Now in the IR (integrated review) we have identified that.

“We said, in fact, the future probably wasn’t a lot of armored mass, it was fast reactive mobile forces that could disperse, which makes it much more difficult for these drones to find them and for us to get a load of these drones.

“In many ways what we’re seeing validates IR, maybe the discussion just needs to be about whether we need a whole lot more of it.

“No defense minister will disagree with this,” he added.

A disabled Russian armored personnel carrier (APC) on the northern outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine (Photo: Collin Mayfield/SIPA USA/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO).

The Armed Forces Minister believes that the Ukrainians took the Russians by surprise and that the Russians showed “extraordinary pride” in their plan.

He said: “They were proud of how they thought the Ukrainian people would welcome them as a liberator.

“They were proud of how overwhelming they thought their power would be against a Ukrainian army.

“They were prideful about the goals they set themselves for the first day of the operation, so now they find themselves in this position, where they had an extraordinarily overambitious plan, completely underestimated their enemy, completely underestimated the determination of the people who they are now fighting to secure.

“And they get a real bloody nose.”

However, he was quick to point out that “no one should be too foggy-eyed” about it.

He added: “The power of the Russian army is always against them. They have overwhelming force at their disposal.

“This overwhelming force unfortunately seems quite indiscriminate, we are going to see some brutal things on our TV screens in the days to come.

“But the torch has been lit for the people of Ukraine and it is burning brightly. I am confident that they will now resist as long as they can in a force-on-force military framework,” he said.

“They will be fighting for their lives in an ensuing insurgency that will cost President Putin enormously and I don’t think the Russian people are going to tolerate that.”