Earlier this month Rishi Sunak committed the UK to providing Kyiv with hundreds of new long-range attack drones after talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky.
But their 200km range does not appear to go far enough for Ukraine to use the drones to strike Moscow from within its own borders, and asked if the Government was confident that UK equipment was not used, the Prime Minister’s spokesman replied: “Yes.”
Russian air defences stopped eight drones converging on Moscow, officials said on Tuesday, in an attack Russian authorities blamed on Ukraine.
The attack came as Russia continued its bombardment of Kyiv with a third assault on the Ukrainian capital in 24 hours.
Ukraine made no immediate comment on the attack on Moscow, which would be one of its deepest and most daring strikes into Russia since the Kremlin launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine more than 15 months ago.
i understands that for historical reasons UK officials are wary of Russia’s blaming Ukraine for the drone attacks, but the Government does not know at this stage who is responsible.
However, Commons Defence Committee chairman Tobias Ellwood told i: “These attacks are a clear sign of increasing strength and confidence from Ukraine as it prepares for a major counter offensive (in its war to retake Russian-held sovereign territory).”
Mr Ellwood said the attack was “a powerful message to the Russian people that Putin’s war is not going to plan (as his state media purports).”
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said Ukraine has the right to “project force” beyond its own borders for self-defence.
Answering questions from the media afterwards, Mr Cleverly was asked about Tuesday’s drone attack on Moscow and whether Ukraine had the right to attack Russian territory.
He said: “I don’t have details, and I am not going to speculate about the nature of the drone attacks in Moscow. So what I’m about to say are more general points, rather than on that specific incident.
“Ukraine does have the legitimate right to defend itself. It has the legitimate right to do so within its own borders, of course, but it does also have the right to project force beyond its borders to undermine Russia’s ability to project force into Ukraine itself.
“So legitimate military targets beyond its own border are part of Ukraine’s self-defence. And we should recognise that.
“That is not to say that I have any particular assessment over the attacks in Moscow, but more broadly military targets beyond its own border are internationally recognised as being legitimate as part of a nation’s self-defence.”