The United Kingdom will deliver two minesweepers to Ukraine to help Kiev conduct mine-sweeping operations to neutralize mines laid by the Russian navy so they can resume Ukrainian exports by sea, the British government said today.

The 52-meter-long, fiberglass Sandown-class vessels, according to London, will give Ukraine “vital capabilities that will help save lives at sea and open up critical export routes,” its defense minister explained. British Grand Saps, according to a press release published by his services.

Ukrainian exports have fallen sharply since war broke out in February 2022, with the Black Sea becoming a battleground between the forces of Moscow and Kiev.

The handover of the two minesweepers coincides with the announcement today by Grand Saps and his Norwegian counterpart Bjern Arild Gram that a coalition is being created to increase Ukraine’s maritime capabilities (“Maritime Capability Coalition”).

This is a “new effort” by Britain, Norway and other allies in order to “strengthen Ukraine’s naval assets in the long term,” noted the British defense minister.

The aim is to enable Kiev to “defend its territorial waters” and “enhance security in the Black Sea”, he added.

This new “coalition” was decided to be formed during the most recent meetings of the contact group for the defense of Ukraine, which includes some fifty countries, led by the US.

Since the Russian army invaded Ukrainian territory in February 2022, the UK has provided the Ukrainian armed forces with £4.6bn (€5.3bn) in military aid.

Grand Sappé is expected to address this and London’s wider initiatives to support Kiev militarily later today.