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Long term security cooperation with UK and Western allies

Since Ukrainian independence in 1991, security cooperation with the UK and other Western allies has been a key feature of bilateral and multilateral relations. With aspirations to join both the EU and NATO, initial military assistance to Ukraine was largely focused on defence reform, defence planning and capacity building.

In response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the ongoing crisis in Eastern Ukraine, and at the request of the Ukrainian Government, Western allies significantly stepped up their support. Reiterating their commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, military assistance to the Ukrainian armed forces has been a key part of their overall approach.

Increase of military support as Russia built forces

The build-up of Russian military forces in Crimea and on the eastern Ukrainian border over the course of 2021 once again threw a spotlight on the nature of Western support to the country. For the first time, several countries, including the UK, started supplying defensive lethal weaponry to Ukraine.

Russia said Western military assistance to Ukraine was a provocation and accused the West of supporting Ukraine in militarising eastern Ukraine and dismantling the 2014 and 2015 Minsk Agreements, which had been the basis for a political solution to the conflict there.  

For information on military assistance to Ukraine since the February 2022 Russian invasion, see Library briefing: Military assistance to Ukraine since the Russian invasion

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