UK to send Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine to 'push Russian troops back'

14 January 2023, 15:08

The UK is sending tanks over to Ukraine, Mr Sunak announced.
The UK is sending tanks over to Ukraine, Mr Sunak announced. Picture: Alamy/Social media

By Emma Soteriou

The UK will provide tanks to Ukraine to help Kyiv's forces "push Russian troops back", Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has confirmed.

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

In a readout of the phone conversation, a No10 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".

She added:"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."

Initially, around a dozen tanks will be sent to Ukraine - enough for a squadron - it is understood.

It marks the first time a country has pledged Western tanks to Ukraine.

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Ukraine is getting less than 5 per cent of weapons they asked for

Following the announcement, Mr Zelenskyy tweeted: "Always strong support of the UK is now impenetrable and ready for challenges.

"In a conversation with the Prime Minister, I thanked for the decisions that will not only strengthen us on the battlefield, but also send the right signal to other partners."

The shadow defence secretary said Labour backed Mr Sunak's decision to provide Ukraine with tanks.

John Healey said: "Modern tanks are crucial to Ukraine's efforts to win its battle against Russian aggression.

"The Government has Labour's fullest backing for military assistance to Ukraine.

"But ministers must move beyond ad hoc announcements and set out a plan for military, economic and diplomatic support through 2023 and beyond.

"As the first anniversary of Russia's invasion approaches, this will help reassure Ukrainians that Britain will stand with them for as long as it takes and signal to Putin that things will get worse not better for Russia."

Ukrainian MP says it is 'critical' for France, Germany, the US, and the UK to send tanks to Ukraine

It comes after Western officials warned Ukraine would not be able to take back significant territory from Russia without an increase in fighting power.

The US has already promised 50 Bradley tank-killing armoured vehicles in its biggest military assistance package to date for Ukraine.