As the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces continues, the United Kingdom has confirmed that it will be the first NATO country to supply Kyiv with Western tanks. The latest development comes as the U.S. plans on training 100 Ukrainian soldiers to manage the Patriot Missile Systems in the coming months.
According to reports, a squadron of 14 tanks called the “Challenger 2” will deploy to Ukraine in the coming weeks. Experts familiar with this type of tank note that it is a main battle tank (MBT) designed to attack other tanks and armored vehicles. The tank has been in service with the British army since the 1990s in Bosnia, Iraq, and other wars. At the start of the invasion in February last year, Ukraine’s military relied on older Soviet-era tanks and captured and repurposed modern Russian tanks.
Ukrainian President Zelenskiy has pleaded with allied Western countries to include tanks and Patriot Missiles in aid packages. Western officials have been cautious over the concern that Russia or China could get their hands on advanced Western military technology.
Should Ukraine receive the tanks from the U.K. and other NATO allies, some experts say that Moscow will see this as an escalation of the war, resulting in Russian forces taking even harsher measures against Kyiv.
The tanks by the British government could put pressure on other NATO countries, like the U.S., Germany, and France, to give their own tanks to Ukraine, which have resisted such calls so far.
According to reports, Britain is also planning to send Ukraine about 30 artillery vehicles called “AS-90,” which are 155mm self-propelled guns with automatic gun-laying system with electronic elevation and rapid target engagement.
Officials note that it will take time to train Ukrainian forces to use British tanks and artillery weapons against Moscow’s forces.
Last Tuesday, the Pentagon announced that it will begin training Ukrainian forces to manage the Patriot Missile System, providing better protection against Russian missile attacks that have devastated the country’s infrastructure. Despite the new military system, experts say it is not a considerable game changer, given its limited range and the time needed for its utilization.
In London, the Russian embassy dismissed the development saying that such weapons will not turn the tide of the war and instead drag it out and be targeted by Russia’s own forces.
Despite claiming victories against Ukraine, the Russian government has been experiencing massive casualties in its invasion, resulting in depleted ammunition, loss of troops, and the destruction of heavy military equipment.
As Moscow continues to endure multiple losses, Russian President Vladimir Putin has turned towards allies like the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Communist Chinese government to provide military resources and help Moscow evade economic sanctions enacted by the international community.
For the past several months, Moscow has relied on military drones and missiles from the Islamic Republic, targeting Ukrainian troops, civilians, and buildings.