British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promises to send Challenger 2 tanks after phone call with Ukraine leader Zelenskyy.
The United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is pledging to provide tanks and artillery systems to Ukraine amid renewed missile attacks by Russia on Ukrainian cities.
Sunak offered to send Challenger 2 tanks and other artillery systems in a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday, the British leader’s Downing Street office said in a statement.
The statement did not say how many or when the tanks would be delivered to Ukraine.
Sunak said the tanks were a sign of the UK’s “ambition to intensify our support to Ukraine”, according to a readout of a phone call with Zelenskyy.
Zelenskyy expressed his appreciation for the military support on Twitter, saying “the decisions that will not only strengthen us on the battlefield, but also send the right signal to other partners.”
Always strong support of the UK is now impenetrable and ready for challenges. In a conversation with the Prime Minister, @RishiSunak, I thanked for the decisions that will not only strengthen us on the battlefield, but also send the right signal to other partners.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) January 14, 2023
Russia reacted to the UK’s pledge and warned it would only “intensify” the conflict.
“Bringing tanks to the conflict zone, far from drawing the hostilities to a close, will only serve to intensify combat operations, generating more casualties, including among the civilian population”, the Russian embassy in the UK said.
Ukraine has been asking to be supplied with heavier tanks for months, including the US Abrams and the German Leopard 2 tasks. However, some Western leaders have been treading carefully.
Poland and the Czech Republic have provided Soviet-era T-72 tanks to the Ukrainian army.
While Poland has also expressed readiness to give Leopard tanks, President Andrzej Duda underscored that the move would only be possible as a part of a larger international coalition of tank aid to Ukraine.
Earlier this month, France said it would send AMX-10 RC armoured combat vehicles to Ukraine, designated “light tanks” in France. The US and Germany announced the same week that they would send Bradley fighting vehicles and Marder armoured personnel carriers, respectively, for the first time.
The UK’s decision to provide the tanks came as Russian forces fired missiles at Ukraine’s capital and other cities around the country on Saturday, hitting key infrastructure.
At least five people were killed and more than 20 wounded in the southeastern city of Dnipro, where a Russian missile attack destroyed a section of an apartment building, regional Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said.
Infrastructure facilities were also hit in the western Lviv region and northeastern Kharkiv. Kyiv, the capital, was also targeted.
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