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Britain leads the way with tanks for Ukraine

A Challenger 2 main battle tank (Ben Birchall/PA)
A Challenger 2 main battle tank (Ben Birchall/PA)

Britain’s decision to become the first Nato ally to supply Ukraine with modern Western battle tanks helped pave the way for Germany’s crucial announcement that it is finally to follow suit with its Leopard 2s.

Rishi Sunak told President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier this month that the UK is to send 14 Challenger 2s as part of its latest support package for the Ukrainian military.

It also includes around two dozen AS90 self-propelled guns, hundreds more armoured vehicles and precision-guided missiles, and 100,000 artillery rounds on top of the 100,000 already sent.

An AS90 self-propelled gun
An AS90 self-propelled artillery gun (MoD/PA)

It keeps the UK at the forefront of Kyiv’s military backers with £2.3 billion of support provided during the course of 2022, with ministers promising a similar amount this year.

Even before the fighting began, as Russian forces massed on the border, Britain was sending the first of thousands of modern Nlaw anti-tank missiles.

The shoulder-launched weapon proved highly effective as Ukrainian troops halted a huge Russian column advancing on Kyiv in a reverse which stunned the Kremlin.

Since then Britain has steadily been stepping up its supply of military materiel in terms of both volume and sophistication as fears the West could be drawn into a direct conflict with Russia eased.

It includes powerful multi-launch rocket systems (MLRS), which are crucial in the artillery battle which has come to dominate the conflict, as well as 28 M109 155mm self-propelled guns and L119 105mm artillery guns.

There has been a formidable array of missiles – including Brimstone, AMRAAM and Javelin systems – and hundreds of armoured vehicles, with six Stormers fitted with Starstreak missile launchers and 2,000 aerial drones.

Other equipment includes nearly three million rounds of small arms ammunition, more than 82,000 helmets, 8,450 sets of body armour, medical supplies and more than 5,000 night-vision devices.

The UK has also provided a significant military training programme based in the UK which has already put through 9,900 Ukrainian troops with an ambition to train 23,000 this year.

In addition, Britain has also gifted Sea King search and rescue helicopters while training dozens of Ukrainian sailors to use unmanned underwater drones to clear mines laid by the Russians.