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Media: UK defense secretary canceled planned Odesa visit due to Russian threat

by Abbey Fenbert March 17, 2024 2:49 AM 2 min read
U.K. Defence Secretary Grant Shapps speaks during a joint press conference with Norway's Defense Minister and Ukraine's Vice Admiral Oleksii Neizhpapa in central London on Dec. 11, 2023. (Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images)
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U.K. Defense Secretary Grant Shapps was forced to cancel a planned trip to Odesa during his recent visit to Ukraine after Russia learned of his travel plans, the Sunday Times reported on March 15, citing sources close to Shapps.

Shapps visited Kyiv on March 7 to announce a new military assistance package for Ukraine allocating 325 million pounds ($416 million) for the purchase of drones. The day before his arrival, a Russian missile struck Odesa during a joint visit by President Volodymyr Zelensky and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The attack killed five people.

Shapps' scheduled visit to Odesa was canceled after U.K. intelligence officials told the defense secretary that Moscow was aware of his travel plans. Shapps instead returned to the U.K. via Poland. During his return flight, Russia reportedly jammed the satellite signal of Shapps' aircraft when it flew near the Russian exclave Kaliningrad.

"Putin has shown himself to be reckless, ruthless, and careless," Shapps told the Sunday Times.

"The fact that he came perilously close to essentially assassinating two Western leaders, it doesn't matter whether that is deliberate or accidental. What the hell is he doing, and why the heck would the West allow him to do that kind of thing?"

The report of Shapps' cancellation comes as Odesa observes a day of mourning for the victims of a devastating March 15 missile attack. Russian forces launched two Iskander-M missiles at the city, killing 21 people and injuring at least 73 others.

Victims of the attack included first responders and city officials.

Ukraine war latest: Russian missile strike on Odesa kills 21, injures over 70
Key developments on March 15: * Russian missile strike kills 21, injures 73 in Odesa, first responders among victims * Scholz, Macron, Tusk vow more arms purchases, new initiatives for Ukraine * Russia recruits more foreign mercenaries to fight in war, Ukraine says * Syrskyi: Russia trying to b…
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