Britain and Poland confirm plans to send modern heavy tanks to Ukraine

Britain and Poland have confirmed plans to send modern heavy tanks to Ukraine and are pressuring Germany and other governments to follow suit.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has asked Defense Secretary Ben Wallace to “work with partners” in the coming weeks to “move further and faster on our support to Ukraine, including the deployment of tanks,” Downing Street said.

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda said his government would send a company of German-built Leopard 2 tanks to the Ukrainian army “as part of building an international coalition”. A company implies about 14 tanks.

The moves by London and Warsaw will increase pressure on Berlin to ship its own tanks to Kyiv and to give other governments the necessary permits to re-export German-built vehicles.

Ukraine says it needs 300 western tanks to free its territory from Russian occupation. It has its own fleet of Soviet tanks, including hundreds of T-72 models captured and donated by Russian forces from Poland and the Czech Republic. But spare parts and ammunition for them are limited. Western main battle tanks, with their superior armor and firepower, would give Kyiv new offensive capabilities.

“We are accelerating our support to Ukraine with the kind of next-generation military technology that will help win this war,” the British government official said. “It is clear that main battle tanks could offer a game-changing capability to the Ukrainians.”

“The war does not end,” said Duda. “Everything indicates that Russia will continue to wage a war of attrition against Ukraine.”

Britain is preparing to deploy its Challenger 2, a high-performance main battle tank. It would be the first modern Western tank sent to Ukraine, but most experts say the Leopard 2 would serve Ukraine better. Thirteen European governments operate about 2,000 Leopards, giving Kyiv a much larger pool to draw from.

Germany and the US agreed last week to send infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine, which some analysts already see as having crossed the Rubicon in terms of offensive weapons. France said it would send an unspecified number of AMX-10 “tank killer” armored vehicles. Officials in Paris and some experts classify the AMX-10 as a “light tank”.

However, Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz has refused to send heavy tanks, fearing it could be viewed by Moscow as a major escalation and potentially dragging NATO into the conflict.

Scholz said Berlin will not act alone, so its allies are trying to put together a coalition of countries willing to send main battle tanks to Ukraine. France is considering participation, an official in Paris said.

Scholz’s coalition partners also support the sending of leopards. Robert Habeck, Vice-Chancellor of the Greens, said he did not rule out such a move.

https://www.ft.com/content/092b8894-4441-4747-bfd4-5b21a0c68709 Britain and Poland confirm plans to send modern heavy tanks to Ukraine

Adam Bradshaw

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