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UK provides Ukraine with anti-tank weapons

January 18, 2022 1:06 amby Illia Ponomarenko
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British and Ukrainian paratroopers shake hands during Joint Endeavor 2020 exercises in Mykolaiv Oblast on Sept. 22, 2020. (ArmyInform)

U.K. Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace has announced that his country will provide Ukraine with anti-tank weapons to boost the Eastern European nation's security against escalating Russian threats.

"In light of the increasingly threatening behavior from Russia, and in addition to our current support, the UK is providing a new security assistance package to increase Ukraine’s defensive capabilities," Wallace announced in his speech to the House of Commons on Jan. 17.

"We have taken the decision to supply Ukraine with light, anti-armor, defensive weapon systems. A small number of UK personnel will also provide early-stage training for a short period of time, within the framework of Operation ORBITAL, before then returning to the United Kingdom."

The new security assistance package complements the training and capabilities Ukraine has recieved so far from Britain, the U.S., and other European allies, according to Wallace.

"Let me be clear: this support is for short-range, and clearly defensive weapons capabilities," he said.

"They are not strategic weapons and pose no threat to Russia. They are to use in self-defense and the UK personnel providing the early-stage training will return to the United Kingdom after completing it."

Wallace did not specify the type of anti-armor weapons to be provided or the value of the new aid package.

Ukraine has every right to defend its borders, he added, while Russia's "current behavior is not only threatening the sovereignty of a proud nation-state, it is also destabilizing the rules-based international order and challenging the values that underpin it."

In response, Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov gave thanks to "the people and the government of the UK" late on Jan. 17, adding that the assistance consistently makes Ukraine's defense more "militarily capable."

The decision paves the way for further expansion of the UK's defense assistance to Ukraine, which has significantly accelerated since 2020. Of particluar significance is British support of Kyiv's effort to resurrect its navy, most of which was lost in Russia's occupation of Crimea in 2014.

Apart from the Orbital Mission, which has provided combat training to nearly 22,000 Ukrainian troops since 2015, the UK approved a deal in late 2021 to issue a 10-year loan worth 1.7 billion pounds sterling to finance Ukraine's naval defense effort.

The deal envisaged 8 brand new patrol boats to be built for Ukraine, as well as funding the construction of new Ukrianian naval bases in the Black and Azov seas. The U.K.'s Royal Navy also announced that it would provide Ukraine with two Sundown-class minehunting vessels, the first of which is expected to arrive in 2022.

According to British media reports, the two governments held talks in 2021 on possible purchases of Brimstone anti-ship missiles by Kyiv.

Following Wallace's announcement on Jan. 18, two Royal Air Force Boeing C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft were spotted bound for Kyiv. It has not been confirmed whether they were carrying the weapons announced by Wallace.

https://twitter.com/KyleJGlen/status/1483143471510736897

As FlightRadar24 data shows, both aircraft seemed to deliberately avoid German airspace on their route.

"I wonder if Germany is refusing flights with weapons for Ukraine access to their airspace," journalist Kyle Glen wrote on Twitter.

On Jan. 17, it became known that Germany had again declined Ukraine's requests for arms supplies, with German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock arguing for "stable relations" with Russia.

Illia Ponomarenko
Author: Illia Ponomarenko

Illia Ponomarenko is the defense and security reporter at the Kyiv Independent. He has reported about the war in eastern Ukraine since the conflict’s earliest days. He covers national security issues, as well as military technologies, production, and defense reforms in Ukraine. Besides, he gets deployed to the war zone of Donbas with Ukrainian combat formations. He has also had deployments to Palestine and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as an embedded reporter with UN peacekeeping forces. Illia won the Alfred Friendly Press Partners fellowship and was selected to work as USA Today's guest reporter at the U.S. Department of Defense.