Sending British tanks to Ukraine 'will only intensify' the war, Moscow reacts

(RFI) Russian diplomacy assured on Saturday (14) that the UK’s sending of tanks to Ukraine “will only intensify” the fighting. The announcement of the unprecedented British military support to Kiev was made this morning.

The UK will provide Challenger 2 tanks and will be the first country to send Western-made heavy tanks to help Ukraine against the Russian invasion, a statement from London said Saturday. During a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak emphasized “the UK’s commitment to intensifying support for Ukraine, including the supply of Challenger 2 tanks and additional artillery systems,” according to Downing Street.

The two leaders stressed the “need to build on” recent Ukrainian victories that have “repelled Russian troops.” No further details were given about the number of tanks to be sent, nor when delivery will take place or whether there will be training for the use and maintenance of the Challenger 2.

Via Twitter, Zelensky thanked the British for making decisions that “will not only strengthen us on the battlefield, but also send the right signal to other partners.” Since the start of the Russian invasion nearly a year ago, Kiev’s European allies have delivered nearly 300 modernized Soviet tanks, but never Western-built heavy tanks, despite Ukraine’s repeated requests.

Europeans Increase Military Support

London is one of Ukraine’s main supporters against Russia. The UK has already delivered to Kiev several rocket launchers and 125 anti-aircraft cannons, as well as more than 100,000 rounds of ammunition and other military equipment.

The British announcement comes after Poland said it was ready to supply 14 Leopard 2s, German-designed heavy tanks considered among the most efficient in the world. Last week, France had indicated that it will send the Ukrainians French-made AMX-10 RC tanks, light armored combat tanks.

“Sending tanks will in no way accelerate the end of hostilities, but will simply intensify them, causing new casualties,” the Russian embassy in London reacted in a statement unveiled hours after the British announcement.

Fighting in Soledar

According to the US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW), the capture of Soledar is “unlikely to herald an imminent siege of Bakhmut,” a town that is the Russian Army’s main target, located 15 kilometers southwest of Soledar. The fighting around Soledar began several months ago, but has increased in intensity in recent days.

To confront the Russian Army, Ukraine on Friday asked its Western allies again for more weapons and military equipment, including heavy tanks and long-range missiles.

The UN Security Council met again on Friday to discuss the situation in Ukraine, nearly 11 months after the Russian invasion began. “Ukraine, Russia and the world cannot allow this war to continue,” said UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo.

With information from AFP *** Translated by the DEFCONPress FYI Team ***

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