UK Confirms Transfer of Challenger 2 Tanks to Ukraine, First Western Heavy Armour Commitment

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has confirmed Britain will send Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, becoming the first country to pledge Western heavy armour to Kyiv.

The British confirmed the move to send heavy tanks to Ukraine on Saturday, with 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister’s official residence, providing a readout of a call between Sunak and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky describing how they “reflected on the current state of Russia’s war in Ukraine, with successive Ukrainian victories pushing Russian troops back and compounding their military and morale issues” and the “need to seize on this moment with an acceleration of global military and diplomatic support to Ukraine.”

“The Prime Minister outlined the UK’s ambition to intensify our support to Ukraine, including through the provision of Challenger 2 tanks and additional artillery systems,” the readout confirmed.

The floodgates were opened to this escalation in the type of Western weapons being sent to Ukraine by Emmanuel Macron’s France earlier this month, when the Frenchman pledged AMX-10 RC armoured vehicles to Kyiv — with Germany and the United States following with their own pledges of Marder and Bradley vehicles not long after.

While the armoured car-like AMX-10s were somewhat dubiously described as “light tanks” when the pledge was made, the Ukrainians lobbied hard for Western main battle tanks — some formerly communist-controlled countries have already sent Soviet-type tanks — to follow, with interest shown in America’s M1 Abrams and, in particular, the German-made Leopard 2.

Some countries in possession of Leopard 2s, particularly Poland, have expressed willingness to send some to Ukraine, but preferably as part of a wider international coalition. Germany is also insisting it has a right to stop countries which have purchased Leopards from sending them on to Ukraine or indeed any third country without their permission, further complicating things.

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