LONDON, January 14. /TASS/. Sending the UK’s tanks Challenger 2 to Kiev will not help the Ukrainian armed forces to turn the tide on the battlefield, but will result in an escalation in the combat operations, generating more casualties, Russia’s embassy to London said in a press release made available to TASS on Saturday.
"Bringing tanks to the conflict zone, far from drawing the hostilities to a close, will only serve to intensify combat operations, generating more casualties, including among the civilian population," the embassy stressed. "Yet this, ironically, fully conforms to London’s objectives of prolonging the conflict. Hence the belligerent official rhetoric and the thorough disregard for the idea, voiced by Russia on several occasions, to resort to a negotiated settlement."
"In short, we are witnessing yet more proof of the UK authorities’ disdain for the lives of ordinary Ukrainians, as well as its ever-growing direct involvement in the conflict," the press release said. "As for the Challenger 2 tanks, they will hardly help the Ukrainian military turn the tide in the field. Yet they will become legitimate large-scale targets for the Russian forces."
On Saturday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky that London pledges to send Challenger 2 tanks and additional artillery systems to Kiev. The exact number of weaponry was not disclosed. However, The Sun reported that at least twelve main battle tanks of the British army are to be sent. The British government’s plans began to be leaked to the British media in early January.
"Public opinion had been deliberately conditioned in the past weeks to accept this step in a process that was at times reminiscent of a poor theatrical production. The principal decision had obviously been precooked, and its announcement tied to coincide with the forthcoming ‘Ramstein’ format meeting," the Russian diplomats said.
"The United Kingdom seems to be intent on reaffirming its status as top NATO Member State in terms of arming Kiev and escalating the conflict," it added. "The initiative to ship modern samples of heavy armor to the Ukrainian military is meant to serve as precedent and to persuade other, less belligerent Western countries to follow suit and provide their own tanks to the Ukrainian armed forces."
The Sun reported that the British government would immediately send four British Army Challenger 2 main battle tanks, with "eight more to follow shortly afterwards." According to the daily, Sunak held talks with the defense and security chiefs telling them "it had to be an operational priority." Previously, the British media reported that ten tanks would be sent to Ukraine, but The Sun points out that Sunak and Defense Secretary Ben Wallace "have decided to send the full squadron (which may comprise up to 18 tanks - TASS) following intense lobbying" from Zelensky.
In the meantime, retired RAF Air-Vice Marshal Sean Bell said in an interview with Sky News that Challenger 2 heavy tanks "will be double Dutch to the Ukrainians and would take a great in of training."
The Pentagon announced on January 6 that it was allocating over $3 billion in another package of military aid to Kiev, which would also include US-made Bradley infantry fighting vehicles (IFV), and German-made Marder IFVs. France, in turn, plans to send AMX-10 RC wheeled tanks to Ukraine.