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”.
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.
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.”