Defense Secretary Ben Wallace announced that Britain has begun supplying Ukraine with new light tank weapons in response to Russia’s threatening actions.
Military support is soaring as the Kremlin continues to increase its deployment by moving troops north to Belarus, which borders Ukraine.
Wallace told Commons on Monday that it had decided to supply Ukraine with a light armored defense weapon system, adding that a small number of British troops would provide training to the Kiev army to use it.
Defense Minister Vladimir Putin has recently complained that other NATO members are selling modern weapons to Ukraine, but insisted that arms sales are for defense.
After Turkey sold the TB2 anti-tank drone to Ukraine, Putin spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and said the arms deal was provocative, according to the Kremlin.
To be clear, this support is for melee and clear defensive weapon capabilities. They are not strategic weapons and do not pose a threat to Russia. They should be used for self-defense, Wallace added.
British defense sources will not immediately reveal which weapons were supplied and how much.
However, experts say the supplied weapon is likely to be a portable, next-generation light anti-tank weapon with a range of several hundred meters to help fight Russia’s heavy tank forces.
They have similar capabilities, but are not as powerful as the Javelin anti-tank missiles the US has supplied to Ukraine since 2018. In theory, a lighter weapon could stun a tank by attacking from above.
The Ministry of Labor said it supported the announcement, which had been briefed beforehand. Shadow Defense Secretary John Healey described the weapon as an anti-tank weapon and said Britain should ensure that it was not used unless Russia invaded it.
Wallace also said it’s not yet clear if the talks will take place, but he will invite Russian Sergei Shoigu to a bilateral meeting in London. “We are prepared to discuss issues related to mutual security issues and to engage in good faith constructively,” the UK secretary said.
The latest arms sales represent a step up from traditional British promises. Until recently, the UK had been focusing on selling ships and naval equipment to Ukraine, and last year it announced 1.7 billion contracts to supply two minesweepers and jointly build eight ships for the small Black Sea Fleet.
Russia has assembled more than 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border, demanding that the state never become a NATO member, and insisting on other security guarantees that Moscow can exert influence in the former Soviet Union.
Some Russian troops have begun moving to Belarus for a planned military exercise called United Resolve. However, Western military analysts say that the most direct route for Russia to attack Kiev is from Belarus.
Moscow’s demands were rejected by the West in a series of diplomatic negotiations last week, raising concerns that Russia might be prepared to consider military options to reassert greater control over Ukraine.
NATO members said the alliance would not intervene militarily to defend Kiev, but said it was prepared to strike Russia with economic sanctions and would continue to supply arms to Russian internal forces before and after the invasion.
I have visited Ukraine 5 times since 2016 and I know that Ukrainians are proud people to stand up and fight for their country, democracy and freedom. There is concern that any aggression would be considered occupation rather than liberation, and could result in massive loss of life on all sides.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said she hopes diplomacy will relieve tensions ahead of her meeting with Russian foreign minister on Tuesday, but if not, Moscow will pay high prices for its aggressive actions against Ukraine.
Tobias Elwood, chairman of the Conservative Defense Committee, asked what additional assistance NATO would provide if Putin approves the invasion. Wallace said he hopes the arms sales announced on Monday send a message to the Kremlin.
I hope because I don’t think Putin has made a final decision yet, but hopefully that will be enough to stop the Kremlin, the united front on the sanctions we are developing, preparing and preparing. Ukraine’s strong resilience should at least give people time to think. The first systems were shipped domestically today, he said.
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