Rishi Sunak confirms UK will provide Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine to ‘push Russian troops back’

UK becomes first Western power to supply Ukrainians with main battle tanks as war approaches first anniversary in February

Sam Rkaina
Saturday 14 January 2023 11:57 GMT
Tank fires explosive shots in battle for Ukrainian salt mine in Soledar

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has confirmed the UK will provide tanks to Ukraine to help Kyiv’s forces “push Russian troops back”.

Downing Street said Mr Sunak made the pledge during a call on Saturday morning with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

In a readout of the phone conversation, a No 10 spokeswoman said the Prime Minister offered Challenger 2 tanks and additional artillery systems as a sign of the UK’s “ambition to intensify our support to Ukraine”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has agreed to deliver a squadron of tanks to Ukraine to aid the country’s efforts in re-taking territory lost to Russian forces

The move makes the UK the first Western power to supply the Ukrainians with main battle tanks.

Earlier this week, Western officials warned Ukraine would not be able to take back significant territory from Russia without an increase in fighting power – including tanks and other heavy armour.

There have been concerns within Nato that supplying tanks could be regarded by the Russians as a further escalation of the conflict.

It comes after the US promised 50 Bradley tank-killing armoured vehicles in its biggest military assistance package to date for Ukraine.

Germany also announced it would supply around 40 Marder armoured personnel carriers and France promised wheeled AMX-10 RC tank destroyers.

Russian self-propelled 152.4 mm howitzers Msta firing during combat in Donetsk

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister spoke to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy today. “The leaders reflected on the current state of Russia’s war in Ukraine, with successive Ukrainian victories pushing Russian troops back and compounding their military and morale issues.

“They agreed on the need to seize on this moment with an acceleration of global military and diplomatic support to Ukraine.

“The Prime Minister outlined the UK’s ambition to intensify our support to Ukraine, including through the provision of Challenger 2 tanks and additional artillery systems.

“The Prime Minister and President Zelenskyy welcomed other international commitments in this vein, including Poland’s offer to provide a company of Leopard tanks.

“The Prime Minister stressed that he and the whole UK Government would be working intensively with international partners to deliver rapidly the kind of support which will allow Ukraine to press their advantage, win this war and secure a lasting peace.”

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