(Reuters) – Ukraine has started receiving Harpoon anti-ship missiles from Denmark and self-propelled howitzers from the United States, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on Saturday, saying the arms would bolster forces fighting Russia’s invasion.
“The coastal defence of our country will not only be strengthened by Harpoon missiles – they will be used by trained Ukrainian teams,” Reznikov wrote on his Facebook page.
He said Harpoon shore-to-ship missiles would be operated alongside Ukrainian Neptune missiles in the defence of the country’s coast including the southern port of Odesa.
After launching its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, Russia imposed a naval blockade of Ukrainian ports, hampering vital grain exports.
It has also used its Black Sea fleet to launch missile attacks against Ukraine, which has since started receiving Western military aid.
Reznikov said the supplies of Harpoon missiles were the result of cooperation between several countries, saying the deliveries from Denmark took place “with the participation of our British friends”.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Monday that Denmark would provide a harpoon launcher and missiles to Ukraine.
Reznikov said Ukraine had also received a range of heavy artillery pieces, including modified U.S.-made M109 self-propelled howitzers that will allow the Ukrainian military to strike targets from longer distances.
Last month, a senior U.S. defense official said the U.S. military had started training a small number of Ukrainian troops on using howitzer artillery, adding that the training was being conducted outside of Ukraine.
Ukraine has said it wants to secure deliveries of U.S.-made long-range M270 multiple-rocket launchers (MLRS) and use them in repelling Russian troops in the east of the country.
The Harpoon is an all-weather, over-the-horizon, anti-ship missile that uses active radar homing and flies just above the water to evade defences. It can be launched from ships, submarines, aircraft or coastal batteries.
Russia says its forces are on a special operation to demilitarise Ukraine and rid it of radical anti-Russian nationalists. Ukraine and its allies call that a false pretext to invade Ukraine on Feb. 24.
(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Helen Popper)