UK considers supply of Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine

Defence sources have confirmed talks with the government in Kyiv are ongoing.

09 January 2023

The UK is considering supplying Ukrainian forces with British tanks for the first time, in their conflict with Russia.

Defence sources have confirmed “talks are ongoing” with the government in Kyiv regarding the possible supply of British Army Challenger 2 main battle tanks.

There was no immediate detail as to how many tanks could be sent or when the delivery could take place.

If it goes ahead it would represent a significant stepping up of western support to Ukraine.

“These conversations have been taking place. The talks are ongoing,” a senior UK defence source told the PA news agency.

So far, Nato members have drawn back from supplying Kyiv with tanks because of concerns over the reaction in Moscow.

If Britain does go ahead, it could be a signal for other allies such as Germany and the United States to follow suit.

In particular, the Ukrainians have been pressing for German-made Leopard IIs which are used by a number of Nato nations.

While Poland and Finland indicated their readiness to send some of theirs, that would require approval from Germany, which holds the export licence.

The government of Chancellor Olaf Schulz has however adopted a more cautious approach than some other allies, to the supply of military hardware.

Downing Street said it was important that Nato members maintained a co-ordinated response.

“We are working in lockstep with our G7 and other allies to guard against anything that could be escalatory,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

“There’s lots of discussion among allies about how we co-ordinate the equipment we provide. First and foremost it is Russia’s illegal invasion that is requiring these sorts of response.”

The  Ministry of Defence said the UK was committed to matching or exceeding last year’s funding for military aid to Ukraine in 2023.

“We have provided over 200 armoured vehicles to Ukraine to date – including Stormer vehicles armed with Starstreak missiles,” a spokesman said.

“We have also donated tens of thousands of items including helmets and body armour, mobility and logistics vehicles, anti-tank weapons, air defence missiles and systems, winter and medical equipment.”

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