Boris Johnson was speaking at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz following their first in-person meeting in London, hours after Berlin declined to send Marder tanks to Ukraine, arguing that Germany needs them for its own defense needs.
The U.K. will send over £100 million worth of military equipment to Ukraine, including more Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles, and an extra 800 anti-tank missiles and precision munitions “capable of lingering in the sky until directed to their target,” Johnson announced. The new British package also includes helmets, night-vision devices and body armor.
It is less certain what artillery could be provided, although there has been speculation that the UK could offer the AS-90 howitzer, which has a range of nearly 15 miles and would help Ukraine’s forces contend with Russian shelling.
Either would be a modest step up from the 4,200-plus NLAW anti-tank bazookas and the Starstreak anti-aircraft systems the UK has already sent to Ukraine, described by the UK as “defensive weaponry” designed to prevent the Russians from swiftly conquering the country.
However, Johnson said the West will not be able to meet all of the weaponry requests submitted by Ukraine, because it “wouldn’t be appropriate” to supply some of that equipment to Kyiv.
Asked if Britain would send its own tanks and armored vehicles to Kyiv, Johnson replied: “I’m in principle willing to consider anything by way of defensive weaponry to help the Ukrainians protect themselves and their people.
“I think it’s important that we should be giving equipment that is genuinely useful and is operable by Ukrainians, that’s our consideration,” he said. “It may be more useful to support the Ukrainians by backfilling and allowing some of the former Warsaw Pact countries to supply some of their own armor in the way that you’ve been seeing.”
Scholz agreed with Johnson, saying allies “must always look at what can be used effectively.”
“The fact is that we are trying to supply weapons that are useful and can be used well … the successes that the Ukrainian army has achieved so far show that these are particularly effective weapons: anti-tank weapons, anti-aircraft weapons, munition.”
Russian forces have abandoned “a lot” of tanks, vehicles, and artillery in a “hasty” withdrawal from northern Ukraine, according to a Western official.
“It has been a pretty hasty withdrawal by Russian forces and there’s a lot of Russian equipment which has been abandoned in that hasty withdrawal and that’s only going to exacerbate the challenge they have in terms of the refurbishment and reconstitution of their forces as they remove them both into Belarus and into Russia.”
They added: “Some of it is kind of unclear as to why it’s been abandoned because you might have thought some of these vehicles are still usable … and I think there’s something around the collapse of morale and the collapse of the will to fight.”
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