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'Masterpiece of off-road martial art': Ukraine defence chiefs hail arrival of British Challenger II tanks
28 March 2023, 09:17 | Updated: 28 March 2023, 10:14
Ukrainian military chiefs have hailed the arrival of British Challenger II tanks.
“They have arrived!” Tweeted Ukraine’s defence ministry.
“Strykers and Cougars from (America), Challengers from (Britain), Marders from (Germany) have officially joined the Air Assault Forces of the #UAarmy!
“The greatest vehicles for the best soldiers. Onward!”
Spokeswoman Irina Zolotar said: “They are in Ukraine already” when asked yesterday.
The tanks are expected to be involved if Ukraine launches a spring counter-offensive.
Britain has pledged 14 Challenger II tanks, with hundreds of German-built Leopard tanks expected to be delivered in coming months from other European allies to Kyiv.
German military officials have said 18 Leopard 2 tanks have reached Ukraine.
“I’m sure that they can make a decisive contribution on the front,” German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said on Twitter.
Analysts predict a Ukrainian counter-attack will get under way during the April-May period as weather improves and more military support arrives.
Ukraine has been calling for more modern vehicles and weapon systems for months to help fight the Russian invasion.
Around 2,000 Leopard 2s, widely regarded as being among the best main battle tanks produced by Nato countries, are in use by European countries. Crewed by a team of four, the 67 tonne vehicles have a 120mm main gun and multi-layered composite armour.
Germany agreed to supply the tanks back in January.
German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said the tanks "have made it into the hands of our Ukrainian friends as promised and on time".
Ukrainian defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov described the British Challenger II vehicle as a work of military art. He posted pictures of the tanks on Facebook.
“The whole civilized world will reboot and finally resist the bloody aggressor, the Russian terrorist country,” he posted.
“After personally "piloting" the Challenger, I can say that even the Rolls Royce driver will not be as comfortable as the crew of this masterpiece of off-road martial art,” he added.
Western defence chiefs estimate that Russian forces have suffered up to 200,000 casualties, with as many as 60,000 killed.
Ukraine has also suffered heavy losses.
Thousands of civilians have also been killed in the conflict which Putin launched more than a year ago.