The tanks' arrival comes at a potentially crucial period in Ukraine's war with Russia, ITV News senior international correspondent John Irvine reports
British-supplied Challenger 2 main battle tanks will soon begin combat missions in Ukraine, the country’s defence minister said.
Oleksii Reznikov said the “fantastic” tanks have “recently” arrived in Ukraine, where bitter fighting continues to rage on.
The UK promised 14 of the vehicles to Ukraine, a move that helped persuade other Western nations to supply their own tanks to aid the fight against the Russian invasion.
In a separate announcement, the German defence ministry said on Monday that 18 Leopard 2 battle tanks, widely considered as among the best in the West's arsenal, have arrived in Ukraine, Reuters reports.
"I'm sure that they can make a decisive contribution on the front," German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said in a tweet.
Germany, which produces the majority of modern heavy tanks in Europe, agreed to supply the tanks to Ukraine in January, after appearing initially reluctant to do so amid provocation fears.
A security source told Reuters that 40 German Marder infantry fighting vehicles and two armoured recovery vehicles had also reached Ukraine to aid in the fight against Russia.
Mr Reznikov earlier posted a video on social media showing him taking one of the British -supplied Challenger 2s “for a spin” in Ukraine.
He thanks Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, adding: “These fantastic machines will soon begin their combat missions.”
Ukrainian tank crews trained in the UK on the machines, which are being donated by the government along with ammunition and spares.
Mr Wallace said the crews “return to their homeland better equipped, but to no less danger”.
Russia has condemned the UK’s move and predicted the tanks would “burn” on the battlefields of Ukraine.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has also reacted to the UK’s decision to supply depleted uranium armour-piercing rounds for the tanks in Ukraine by announcing plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in neighbouring Belarus.
The threats come as Russia continues to strategically prioritise an operation attempting to encircle the Donetsk Oblast town of Avdiivka, according to the UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD).
In its latest intelligence update, the MoD says Russia’s 10th tank regiment has likely lost a “large portion of its tanks” while attempting to surround the town from the south.
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