The UK is helping Eastern European countries donate tanks to Ukraine as well as sending its own armoured vehicle, Boris Johnson has confirmed.
On Friday, the prime minister met German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Downing Street to push for more coordinated action on sanctions and military assistance.
Speaking at a joint press conference, Mr Johnson revealed the UK was ready to help countries like Poland send tanks to Ukraine, arguing that Kyiv’s military would be better because they are more likely to be interoperable with its existing armour.
He said: “What we are now looking at is finding ways to support friends and partners who want to send other types of equipment that may be useful to the Ukrainians… 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 armour.”
Britain is increasing its weapons donations by another £100 million, including more Starstreak missile and anti-tank arms and “precision munitions capable of lingering in the sky until directed to their target”, Mr Johnson added.
The UK and Australia are already providing some armoured vehicles to Ukrainian forces alongside T72 tanks being shipped over by the Czech government, Western officials have confirmed.
Slovakia also confirmed it was sending an S-300 air defence system.
On Tuesday, the Czech Republic sent T-72 tanks and BVP-1 infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine, a Czech defence source told Reuters, confirming a local media report.
A spokesperson for the Defence Ministry said the Czech Republic had sent military aid worth nearly 1 billion crowns ($45 million) to Ukraine since the beginning of the war on Feb. 24 but declined to give further details.
Poland has begun transferring its T-72M tanks to Ukraine, which allows the Armed Forces of Ukraine to compensate for the irretrievable losses of this equipment significantly. According to the REUTERS news agency, Poland is preparing to transfer to Ukraine its armored vehicles of Soviet origin; Poland will transfer to Ukraine up to 100 T-72M tanks and 30 BMP -1 infantry fighting vehicles.
In addition, there is information that Germany, Slovakia and several other NATO countries are planning to transfer their tanks to Ukraine.
“The West is now providing protected mobility vehicles, I think both from the UK and Australia as well as the announcement earlier in the week that the Czech government were providing T72s,” officials said.
They suggested Ukraine would need more anti-tank and anti-air weapons, already provided by Nato allies, as well as the armoured vehicles to replace “depleted stock”.
Ukrainian forces have also captured Russian vehicles, which, officials said, can be more effective given troops are familiar with operating them and will not have to learn how to use complex kit.
During his Downing Street press conference, Mr Scholz insisted Germany was making the maximum possible effort to avoid the use of Russian oil and gas. He said: “We are doing all we can, and we are doing a lot. I think it’s a very strong decision that we took to go away from the use of fossil resources. We invest into becoming a country that will be just using renewables for electricity.” He warned that the need to build new infrastructure to import gas from overseas was slowing down the pace of the transition.
Mr Johnson also hit out at China’s support of Russia during the invasion of Ukraine, saying: “There’s a very interesting question to be addressed and that is whether they really want to be associated closely with what is being done in Mariupol, in Bucha, whether they really want to be associated with in any way condoning or in any way supporting the regime of Vladimir Putin. And I think as as the days have gone by, that question has become increasingly difficult for China.”
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