Report: Supply of British Tanks to Kiev Will Leave London ‘Weaker’, UK Military Chief of Staff Says
06:15 GMT 17.01.2023 (Updated: 15:25 GMT 28.05.2023)
Late last week, the Russian Embassy in the UK said that Britain’s effort to transfer its Challenger 2 tanks to the Zelensky administration is meant to pressure other European governments to provide Ukraine with weaponry.
UK Chief of the General Staff General Sir Patrick Sanders has warned that supplying Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine would leave Britain “temporarily weaker”, according to a British media outlet.
In a leaked statement seen by the outlet, Sanders insisted that the delivery of 14 UK tanks to Kiev would “leave a gap in our inventory”, adding that the British military would struggle to meet its NATO obligations.
The outlet also referred to a video posted on the UK army’s intranet, where Sanders reportedly “hinted at the military’s unease over the decision by No 10 to give heavy armor to Ukraine while also cutting the number of tanks” in the British armed forces.
30 December 2022, 05:08 GMT
The chief of the general staff’s claims have purportedly prompted the Defense Secretary to start reviewing the decision to reduce the number of tanks in the British Army.
A separate UK media outlet, meanwhile, underscored that the main question is what number of tanks, including UK ones, “will give Kiev the chance to mount its own offensive.”
“Experts at the International Institute for Strategic Studies said last week they believed the answer was ‘around 100’, a figure broadly endorsed by Phil Osborn, a former UK chief of defense intelligence, although that depends on proper training, a good supply of spares, and what Ukraine’s battle plans are for spring 2023,” according to the outlet.
It added, “What all that makes clear is that the UK donation of 14 Challenger 2s is not itself enough and that even if Britain wanted to go further from its nominal stock of 227, it could not provide anything like the volume required in isolation.”
The remarks followed Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov telling reporters on Monday that the UK's provision of Kiev with 2tanks won’t affect the course of the ongoing Russian special operation in Ukraine.
“The special military operation will continue. These tanks [Challenger 2] … will burn like the rest [of the Ukrainian military hardware]. The goals of the special operation will be achieved,” Peskov emphasized.
He spoke after the Russian Embassy in London said in a statement that the UK’s decision to send modern samples of heavy armor to Kiev was designed "to persuade other, less belligerent Western countries to follow suit and provide their own tanks to the Ukrainian armed forces."
"As for the Challenger 2 tanks, they will hardly help the Ukrainian military turn the tide in the field. Yet they will become legitimate large-scale targets for the Russian forces," the statement read.
According to the embassy, “we are witnessing yet more proof of the UK authorities’ disdain for the lives of ordinary Ukrainians, as well as its ever-growing direct involvement in the [Ukraine] conflict.”
NATO Faces 'Very Real' Arms Shortages Due to Ukraine Conflict, Aims to Fill Gap, US Envoy Says
13 December 2022, 16:45 GMT
Earlier last week, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a phone call that London would provide Kiev with 14 Challenger 2 tanks. “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,” Sunak's office said.
Since the beginning of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the US and its NATO allies have delivered more than $40 billion worth of weapons to Kiev. Moscow, for its part, has repeatedly said that the Western arms supplies to Kiev further prolongs the Ukraine conflict, and that convoys of those weapons become a legitimate target for the Russian army.