The first British Challenger tanks have arrived in Ukraine, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov announced Monday evening, new Western military equipment that will help Kyiv repel a Russian invasion.
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Mr Reznikov said “British Challengers, American Strykers and Cougars and German Marauders” were “included in the Ukrainian units”.
The minister posted a photo of the vehicles on his Facebook account without saying when they arrived.
A spokeswoman for the Ukrainian ministry, Iryna Zolotar, confirmed to AFP that the Challenger tanks “were already in Ukraine,” without providing an exact number at this stage.
The British Ministry of Defense announced earlier on Monday that Ukrainian soldiers have completed their training in England to learn how to handle 14 Challenger 2 tanks provided by London to Ukraine in the face of a Russian invasion.
Their training began shortly after it was announced in early January that the United Kingdom would be supplying the tanks. “The UK is sending Challenger 2 tanks, which will soon be in the hands of the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” the British ministry said in a statement.
London had previously indicated delivery in March, without providing further details on the delivery schedule.
British Defense Minister Ben Wallace announced that the trained Ukrainian soldiers, an unspecified number, were returning to their country “better armed, but no less dangerous”.
“We continue to stand with them and do everything we can to support Ukraine,” he added in a statement.
“I am fighting for my future, for the future of my country, for the future of my family,” a trained Ukrainian soldier said in a video produced by British Defence.
In early support for Ukraine, the UK also announced in early February that it would train Ukrainian fighter pilots, opening the door to an eventual delivery of NATO-standard aircraft.
Westerners see Ukraine as having the right to defend itself, but some are reluctant to provide weapons that could escalate the conflict by allowing Ukraine to attack Russia.
Slovakia recently delivered four MiG-29s to Ukraine and Poland has promised to do the same.