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Challenge 2: The Tanks Ukraine Needs to Beat Russia?

NATO Germany
A Challenger 2 main battle tank (MBT) is pictured during a live firing exercise in Grafenwöhr, Germany. Exercise BAVARIAN CHARGER was the first of three large contingency operation exercises being undertaken by 20th Armoured Brigade between May – October 2013. Contingency Operations training is known as Hybrid Foundation Training or HFT.

The United Kingdom is ramping up military support to Ukraine in an attempt to bring the Russian invasion to a quicker end.

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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the U.K. would be sending an additional four Challenger 2 main battle tanks, for a total of a company of 14, and around 30 AS90 155mm self-propelled guns

“A Long Static War Serves Only Russia’s Ends”

The new year seems to have brought a willingness in the West to help Ukraine finish the war as fast as possible.

In 2023, the U.K. has agreed to match or exceed the military assistance it gave Ukraine last year. 

London, moreover, perceives that a window has opened up, and that the Russian military is on the backfoot because of the heavy losses it has suffered, weakened resupply lines, and failing morale. 

“As the people of Ukraine approach their second year living under relentless Russian bombardment, the Prime Minister is dedicated to ensuring Ukraine wins this war,” a 10 Downing Street spokesperson said in a press release.

The U.K. is only behind the U.S. in the military support it has provided Ukraine. British military assistance includes Next Generation Anti-Tank Weapons (NLAW), Stormer air defense vehicle armed with Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles, Wolfhound tactical support vehicle, Spartan armored personnel carrier, Husky tactical support vehicle, and Mastiff 6×6 patrol vehicle, among other weapon systems.

“Alongside his closest military advisors, he has analysed the military picture, looked at the strategic impact of the UK’s support and identified a window where he thinks the UK and its allies can have maximum impact,” the spokesperson added. 

“The Prime Minister is clear that a long and static war only serves Russia’s ends. That’s why he and his ministers will be speaking to our allies across the world in the days and weeks ahead to ramp up pressure on Putin and secure a better future for Ukraine,” 10 Downing Street added. 

Ukraine War: Diplomatic and Political Pressure 

London, however, isn’t just providing weapon systems to Ukraine, it is also exerting pressure on allies and partners to give more security assistance to Kyiv. 

“A flurry of UK diplomatic activity will take place across the globe this week after the Prime Minister directed senior ministers to drive international action as we approach the first anniversary of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in late February,” Downing Street announced.

With little doubt, Germany currently stands as the most important hurdle in the quest to arm Ukraine

For example, several nations have announced or hinted a willingness to provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 main battle tanks. Finland was the first, stating that it would provide tanks if another European country joined in.

Poland soon followed suit by declaring that it would be giving Ukraine a company of 14 Leopard 2 tanks.

Spain is also interested in giving some of its German-made tanks to the Ukrainian military. However, Berlin, as the manufacturer of the Leopard 2 tank, has yet to give the re-export greenlight to the countries willing to help Ukraine. 

If Sunak, or indeed U.S. President Joe Biden, help bend Germany’s reluctance, then Ukraine will be in a much better place. 

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Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.