UK sending heavy tanks to Ukraine, prompts Russian warning

Ukrainian servicemen stand close to a tank on the frontline close to Kreminna, Lugansk area, on January 12, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. —AFP 
  • UK PM Rishi Sunak pledges to supply Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine. 
  • Russian says it is going to generate extra casualties, together with amongst civilian inhabitants.
  • After going through heavy losses, Ukraine forces name on nation’s allies to offer it extra assist.

LONDON: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Saturday pledged to supply Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, making it the primary Western nation to produce the heavy tanks Kyiv has been calling for.

The pledge noticed a swift response from Russia which warned it will solely “intensify” the battle.

“Bringing tanks to the battle zone, removed from drawing the hostilities to a detailed, will solely serve to accentuate fight operations, producing extra casualties, together with among the many civilian inhabitants”, the Russian embassy within the UK mentioned.

Sunak mentioned the tanks had been an indication of the UK’s “ambition to accentuate our assist to Ukraine”, in accordance with a readout of a cellphone name with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Ukraine’s European allies have despatched Kyiv greater than 300 modernised Soviet tanks since Russia invaded in February 2022.

However they’ve up to now held off on dispatching the Western-made heavy tanks that Ukraine has repeatedly requested to push ahead towards Russian invaders.

Zelensky thanked the UK on Twitter for making choices that “won’t solely strengthen us on the battlefield, but in addition ship the correct sign to different companions”.

Heavy losses 

Ukraine’s forces have taken heavy losses within the battles of Soledar and Bakhmut in current months and have known as on the nation’s allies to offer it extra assist.

Russia mentioned on Friday its forces had wrested management of the war-scarred city of Soledar in east Ukraine, its first declare of victory in months of battlefield setbacks, though Ukraine mentioned fierce preventing was nonetheless underneath method.

“To win this struggle, we want extra navy gear, heavy gear,” Andriy Yermak, head of Ukraine’s presidential workplace, mentioned.

Overseas Minister Dmytro Kuleba additionally mentioned that he had spoken with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and “emphasised the necessity” for Ukraine to obtain Western-type tanks.

Sunak’s formal supply follows reviews that he was making ready to log out on sending 4 British Military Challenger 2 important battle tanks to japanese Europe instantly, with eight extra to observe shortly afterwards.

The prime minister’s workplace has not but confirmed the precise variety of tanks it is going to ship to Kyiv.

Seize the second 

A Downing Avenue spokesman mentioned Sunak and Zelensky agreed on the “must seize on this second” after Ukrainian victories had “pushed Russian troops again”.

“The Prime Minister outlined the UK’s ambition to accentuate our assist to Ukraine, together with by the availability of Challenger 2 tanks and extra artillery programs,” the spokesman mentioned.

The difficulty of heavy tanks has lengthy been a key one for Kyiv and plenty of specialists see offering Ukraine with trendy tanks as an important constructing block in its skill to win towards Russia.

Germany has been particularly hesitant of supplying heavy tanks.

It has delivered highly effective cellular artillery and air defences however stays afraid of an escalation with Moscow if its tanks face off instantly towards their Russian counterparts.

The Downing Avenue spokesman added that Sunak and Zelensky “welcomed different worldwide commitments together with Poland’s supply to supply an organization of Leopard tanks”.

“The Prime Minister careworn that he and the entire UK Authorities can be working intensively with worldwide companions to ship quickly the form of assist which can permit Ukraine to press their benefit, win this struggle and safe a long-lasting peace,” he mentioned.

The UK announcement comes forward of subsequent week’s assembly of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group, which coordinates arms provides to Kyiv, at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

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