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UK will not dictate what support allies should offer Ukraine, says No 10

The UK is supplying Kyiv with British Army Challenger 2 main battle tanks (Owen Humphreys/PA)
The UK is supplying Kyiv with British Army Challenger 2 main battle tanks (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Downing Street has said the UK will not dictate to allies what form support for Ukraine should take, amid pressure on Germany to step up its response.

Ukraine is asking for tanks and more powerful arms as Russia’s war drags on, with Germany being urged to approve the transfer of Leopard 2 battle tanks which are made in the country.

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg called for the speedy delivery of new weapons to Ukraine on Tuesday.

After talks with German defence minister Boris Pistorius in Berlin, Ms Stoltenberg said: “At this crucial moment in the war, we need to provide Ukraine with heavier and more advanced systems, and we need to do it faster.”

Jans Stoltenberg and Boris Pistorius
Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, left, met German defence minister Boris Pistorius in Berlin on Tuesday (Kay Nietfeld/dpa/AP)

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the UK Government will not “dictate to other countries exactly what they should or should not provide – first and foremost that must be for those countries”.

He added: “We look to work with our allies in lockstep as much as possible.

“Our approach has borne fruit.

“You’ve seen the huge amounts of equipment, material and financial support that has been provided to Ukraine since the start of the war.”

The Government confirmed plans earlier this month to supply Kyiv with British Army Challenger 2 main battle tanks.

Poland has officially requested permission from Germany to transfer its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine to help fight Russia’s invasion, the Polish defence minister has said.

Boris Johnson visit to Ukraine
Former prime minister Boris Johnson met President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv during a surprise visit to Ukraine at the weekend (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/PA)

German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said on Sunday that Berlin would not seek to stop Poland providing the hi-tech armour to Kyiv.

But Germany’s ambassador to the UK Miguel Berger said Chancellor Olaf Scholz had to carefully consider the decision and said it would be better if other Nato allies including France and the US also supplied tanks.

The diplomat told BBC Radio 4’s World at One: “It’s not fear about Russia’s response or Russian threats, I think that is very important. But obviously the strategic implications of sending a new type of armament into the conflict needs to be thoroughly analysed.

“Chancellor Scholz and the German government needs to take the necessary time.”

He said similar deliberations were taking place in Paris and Washington over the supply of Leclerc and Abrams tanks.

“I think it’s very important that Germany does not go alone on it,” Mr Berger said.

“Obviously it will help the decision if we have a commitment from other countries to go in the same direction.”

Downing Street said there is “concerted and long-lasting” backing for Ukraine among allies.

Writing in the Daily Mail on Tuesday, former prime minister Boris Johnson repeated his call for Western countries to send the weapons Ukraine needs.

“The sooner we can help the Ukrainians to their inevitable victory, the sooner their suffering will be over, and the sooner the whole world, including Russia, can begin to recover from Putin’s catastrophe,” he wrote.

“That requires all of us in the West, all the friends of Ukraine, to double and treble our support.”