The first British Challenger tanks have arrived in Ukraine, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on Monday evening, announcing the deployment of new Western military equipment to help Kyiv repel the Russian invasion.
“British Challengers, American Strykers and Cougars and German Marders” have been “added to the Ukrainian units,” said Reznikov, who posted a photo of the vehicles in a Facebook message, without saying exactly when they had arrived.
A Ukrainian ministry spokesperson, Iryna Zolotar, confirmed to French news agency AFP that the Challenger tanks were “already in Ukraine,” but did not give their exact number.
Ukrainian soldiers have completed training in the UK on the handling of the 14 Challenger 2 tanks supplied by London in the face of the Russian invasion, the British Ministry of Defence announced earlier on Monday.
Their training had begun shortly after the UK announced in early January that it was supplying the tanks. London had earlier hinted at a March delivery, without giving further details.
The trained Ukrainian soldiers, whose numbers were not specified, are returning home “better equipped, but no less in danger,” British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said. “We will continue to stand by them and do all we can to support Ukraine for as long as it takes,” he added in a statement.
An early supporter of Ukraine, the UK also announced in early February that it would train Ukrainian fighter pilots, opening the door to eventually providing Kyiv with NATO standard aircraft.