British tanks expected to arrive in Ukraine by March

The UK will supply Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine. Credit: PA

Tanks being supplied by the UK to Ukraine are expected to arrive in the country by the end of March.

It comes after the UK Government announced its intention to send around 14 Challenger 2 tanks to the Ukrainians.

Speaking in the Commons on Thursday, defence minister Alex Chalk said the UK will be training Ukrainian soldiers in how to use and fix the contingent of tanks "next week on Monday".

He said: "The intention is that it will be at the end of March, and between now and then a really significant programme of training, not just for the tank crews who are to operate this vehicle, but also for those who will be charged with maintaining it."

Alex Chalk speaking in the Commons. Credit: PA

Mr Chalk stressed that equipping Ukraine to push Russia out of its territory is "as important as equipping them to defend what they already have".

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, meanwhile, said "everything's going according to plan" when asked about the latest round of British military aid being sent to Ukraine.

He said: "I think when it comes to the question of tanks everyone should feel very proud of the leadership role that we here in the United Kingdom have played. One of the early nations to provide tanks to Ukraine.

"As ever in this conflict we have tried to make sure that we can provide as much support to Ukraine as possible. We've demonstrated that again by providing our challenger tanks before others."

Mr Sunak said the UK is now 'in dialogue' with Ukraine to decide how best to provide it with British Challenger 2 tanks

In response to Mr Chalk's statement, Labour welcomed the move by the UK and Nato allies to send tanks to Ukraine, but also urged ministers to replenish the UK’s supply of arms after its donations.

Shadow defence minister Rachel Hopkins said: "The UK remains united in its support of Ukraine. The first package of UK military assistance for 2023 with tanks, artillery, infantry vehicles, ammunition, and missiles has Labour’s fullest support."

Russian forces launched a wave of missiles and self-exploding drone attacks at the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Thursday, killing at least one and injuring others.

The early morning strike led to the first attack-related death of the year in Kyiv, even as air defences shot down many of the incoming projectiles.

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The assault came a day after Germany and the United States upped the ante in Russia's 11-month war by promising to send high-tech battle tanks to Ukraine and green-lighting other allies to do the same.

Now that Western countries have committed to sending tanks to Ukraine, the key is "speed and volume", the Ukrainian President said.

In his nightly video address,  Volodymyr Zelenskyy said: "The key now is speed and volume. The speed of training our military, the speed of supplying tanks to Ukraine. We have to form a fist of tanks, a fist of freedom, which will not allow tyranny to rise again."

People gather in a subway station being used as a bomb shelter during a Russian rocket attack in Kyiv. Credit: AP

The decision to send the tanks ended weeks of diplomatic deadlock over the supply of armour to the country.

The US has confirmed it will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to the warzone.German Chancellor Olaf Scholz approved the supply of the Leopard 2 to Kyiv, which would also allow other allies operating the tanks to re-export them.

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