The United Kingdom is considering supplying Ukraine with British tanks for the first time since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion, the UK Sky News television news channel reported on Jan. 9.
A source with knowledge of the conversations told Sky News that discussions have been taking place “for a few weeks” about delivering a number of the British Army’s Challenger 2 main battle tank to the Ukrainian armed forces.
Such a move would mark a significant step-up in Western support to Ukraine and could help prompt other NATO allies, in particular Germany, to follow suit.
“It would encourage others to give tanks,” a Ukrainian source said.
According to Sky, no final decision has yet been made by British PM Rishi Sunak’s government, but if the United Kingdom did sign off on such a delivery, it would become the first nation to respond to pleas from Ukrainian leaders to equip their military with powerful Western tanks.
One source suggested Britain might offer around 10 Challenger 2 tanks, enough to equip a squadron.
The source said this in itself would not be a “game changer”, but it would still be hugely significant because the move would breach a barrier that has so far prevented allies from offering up Western tanks to Ukraine for fear of being seen as overly escalatory by Russia.
That could in turn prompt other allies to do the same, sources said.
In May 2022, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on the United Kingdom to transfer modern tanks to Ukraine, in particular the Challenger 2.
In late April 2022, the then British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that London was considering the possibility of sending Challenger 2 tanks to Poland, so that Warsaw could transfer part of its T-72 tanks to Ukraine.