The Russian Embassy in London warned that delivering British Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine would prolong the conflict and make them a target for Moscow’s artillery.
The Russian Embassy in London warned on January 14 that the United Kingdom’s sale of main battle tanks to Ukraine will only increase the number of civilian casualties and demonstrate London’s “growing involvement in the conflict.”
Russia believes that British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s declaration of the supply of tanks to Ukraine would mirror the severity of the fight on the battlefield and will not bring the parties closer to negotiations to end the conflict.
The embassy warned that Russian artillery would have a legitimate target in the Challenger 2 tanks, but they won’t be able to help Ukrainian forces shift the course of the battle.
Moscow’s declaration came after British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced his country would send 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine in the next weeks, followed by 30 AS90 self-propelled howitzers.
The British government will assist Ukrainian training personnel to use the new weaponry in the next few days. According to the office of the British Prime Minister, the Ministry of Defense will report to the British parliament on January 16 with the specifics of the British government’s security assistance plan for Ukraine.
Mr. Sunak and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky discussed the matter on the phone, and then made the decision public. The British Prime Minister’s Office has declared that Mr. Sunak is committed to helping Ukraine achieve military success.
“The Prime Minister and his most trusted military advisers have analyzed the situation, assessed the strategic impact of British support, and determined this is the time when military support from the UK and its allies has a significant impact.,” added the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Russian Embassy accused the Sunak administration of leaking information about the plan to deliver tanks to Ukraine beginning this month to sway public opinion and persuade the British public to embrace the decision to add additional heavy weaponry to the conflict.
Russian diplomats have condemned the United Kingdom for supplying armaments to Ukraine and pushing the development of the conflict to bolster its status as a “leading NATO member.”
Moscow anticipates that London will send heavy weapons to Ukraine to set a precedent that will inspire the remaining Western partners to follow suit, bringing additional tanks of NATO standard to this battlefield.
Challenger 2 is the main combat tank type the United Kingdom put into service in 1994. Challenger 2 has been tested in actual action during the battles in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Iraq.
This main battle tank has a 120mm main gun, a 7.62mm machine gun in the turret, and a coaxial machine gun. Chobham complex armor, installed on the turret and some of the body, can withstand damage from a wide variety of contemporary anti-tank weaponry.
The British Army has maintained 386 Challenger 2 tanks since 1998, with only 227 currently in service. In early 2021, the force announced that it would extend the service lives of 148 vehicles until 2035, with the remaining vehicles being scrapped. Only Qatar, with 38 units in service, has the Challenger 2 tank, which the United Kingdom also owns.