Grant Shapps says his ‘money’s still on Ukraine’ to defeat Russia, as he blames US funding delays for Kharkiv setback

14 May 2024, 08:52

Grant Shapps has continued to back Ukraine
Grant Shapps has continued to back Ukraine. Picture: LBC/Alamy

By Kit Heren

Grant Shapps has said he still expects Ukraine to defeat Russia, despite a series of damaging setbacks near its second-largest city of Kharkiv.

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The Defence Secretary told LBC's Nick Ferrari that his "money is on" Ukraine to beat back the Kremlin's forces - but warned that delays to a US funding package had damaged Kyiv's defence efforts.

In April, members of the US Congress finally agreed to send $61 billion (£49 billion) in funding for Ukraine, after months of delays and disputes.

Mr Shapps said the delays had "left Ukraine exposed" to Russian attacks.

Russia launched a surprise offensive on Friday in the Kharkiv region in north-eastern Ukraine. On Monday, the Kremlin claimed it had taken control of nine villages, including Vovchansk, near Kharkiv itself, which is Ukraine's second largest city.

Read more: US agrees £76 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan after months of delays

Read more: Russian military says it has seized control of nine villages in northeastern Ukraine as fighting in Kharkiv intensifies

Watch Again: Nick Ferrari speaks to Defence Secretary Grant Shapps | 14/05

Ukrainian commanders are concerned about Russian troops getting in artillery-range of Kharkiv.

Mr Shapps said that he had spoken to Ukrainian defence minister Rustem Umerov "in significant detail" about the attacks.

He added: "We're working very actively with our Ukrainian friends on how to plan and better defend around Kharkiv, their second biggest city, and I have to say that overall our brave Ukrainian friends - my money is on them.

"They've shown [their strength] time and again, they've defied all expectations and as President Zelenskyy has said to me, they wouldn't be in this battle now, if it hadn't been for British assistance right from the outset."

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After the US and along with Germany, the UK is one of the biggest donors to Ukraine since the war started, pledging £12.5 billion in aid. Some £7.6 billion of that is for military, including £3 billion for the military over the next financial year.

"So we know what we need to do," Mr Shapps added. "We need to carry on helping them and encouraging others to follow our lead."

He said that "although this is going to be... a difficult summer for Ukraine", he was "confident that they will get through this", adding that he was working with Mr Umerov "to make sure that's the case."

Civilians living in Vovchansk and surrounding regions are evacuated from their homes. as Russia attempts to reinvade northern Ukraine
Civilians living in Vovchansk and surrounding regions are evacuated from their homes. as Russia attempts to reinvade northern Ukraine. Picture: Alamy

The Ukrainian military said on Monday evening that Russia had lost more than 100 soldiers since the beginning of the day.

It added that Ukrainian troops had begun restoring old positions in the region. Meanwhile, fighting remains in 12 areas, spreading to the west of Vovchansk.