The UK’s Challenger 2 main battle tank is ready for delivery to Ukraine. Photo/REUTERS
LONDON – Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesman said Britain would provide Ukraine with main battle tanks.
Wednesday’s statement came after Poland said it would send German-made tanks to Kiev’s forces, with Berlin’s permission.
The spokesperson said, “Sunak has asked UK Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace to work with his partners on going further and faster with our support for Ukraine including the provision of tanks.”
Formal announcements are likely to be made with respect to some of Britain’s NATO allies, as was the case last week when the United States, France and Germany all announced together that they would be sending infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine.
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US officials have said they will not be sending American-made M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, citing onerous maintenance requirements for the vehicles.
However, Poland announced on Wednesday that it would supply Kiev with a batch of German-made Leopard tanks, a decision that required a green light from Berlin.
While the German government officially has no plans to donate its own Leopards, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said Monday he would not rule out such a move.
Meanwhile, Kiev believes Germany’s caution is an illusion. “Germany will do it anyway at a later date,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the Tagesschau news channel on Wednesday.
“We’ve seen this with self-propelled howitzers, with the IRIS-T anti-aircraft system and more recently with the Marder and Patriot systems,” he said.
Britain’s decision has also been telegraphed to the media in recent days, with officials telling Sky News on Monday that Sunak’s government had been discussing the possibility for “several weeks”, and Britain “might offer around ten” tanks.
According to Sky, a formal announcement could be made by several countries by January 20, when the US-led ‘Contact Group’ to arm Ukraine is scheduled to meet next.