London still undecided about supplying Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine
The United Kingdom still does not know whether or not it will be sending Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine as Kiev demands more support.
The UK government has not yet made a final decision on the possible delivery of Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's spokesman said on Tuesday, commenting on recent media reports.
Sky News reported Monday that the United Kingdom, according to a source familiar with the matter, might be supplying Ukraine with Challenger 2, the British Army's main tank, and there have been talks about the affair for the past two weeks
The authorities in Downing Street still have not made a final decision, but if the United Kingdom fulfills the requests of the Ukrainian authorities, this would make London the first western power to have responded to Kiev's demands to be supplied with key tanks from the West. This could be a domino effect that would lead other NATO allies to supply Ukraine with tanks.
"We haven’t made any final decisions on provision of tanks at this stage ... Until decisions are made on these sorts of things, we don’t comment on speculation around what further equipment may or may not be sent," the spokesperson said, according to The Guardian.
"We will continue to discuss with Ukrainian counterparts about what is the best form we can provide. And that’s done in conjunction with our allies," he added.
The Contact Group, a US-led mechanism of 50 nations pumping arms into Ukraine, is set on holding its next meeting on January 20. This upcoming meeting could see London announcing the support in the form of tanks that it is intending to send to Ukraine.
This aid package could include around 10 Challenger 2 tanks, which would be enough to arm an entire squadron, one source told Sky News.
The same source admitted that this would not necessarily tip the balance of power, but it would make for a first in terms of Ukraine receiving Western tanks, opening up the opportunity for many other nations to do so after the collective West saw this as a move that Russia would perceive as greatly escalatory.
This comes days after the Pentagon announced that the latest military assistance package for Ukraine worth $3.75 billion includes 50 Bradley fighting vehicles, 500 TOW anti-tank missiles, and 250,000 rounds of 22mm ammunition.
According to US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasian Affairs Laura Cooper, it will take a couple of months to field Bradley fighting vehicles in Ukraine.
Late last year, The Telegraph newspaper reported that the United Kingdom intended to increase defense spending by around 1.5 billion pounds ($1.8 billion) in light of the Ukraine war. UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt is expected to announce the increase for the fiscal year 2025 in the spring of 2023.
In late November, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak vowed that his country would stand by Kiev's side "until Ukraine has won" during his first visit to the Ukrainian capital since taking office.
The Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Valery Gerasimov, revealed in December that the West had supplied more than 350 tanks, 700 artillery systems, 100 multiple launch rocket systems, 30 helicopters, at least 5,000 drones, and 1,000 armored fighting vehicles to Ukraine since the start of Ukraine war. Total foreign financial assistance to Ukraine amounted to almost $100 billion, Gerasimov added.