The first of Britain’s Challenger 2 main battle tanks have arrived in Ukraine, with Britain’s defense secretary giving the UK a thumbs up as he toured the heavy armor that will soon take on Vladimir Putin’s invaders.
Britain said in January it would send 14 tanks to Ukraine, which is preparing for a possible counter-attack against Russian forces that invaded 13 months ago.
Oleksii Reznikov wrote on Twitter that the tanks ‘recently arrived in our country’ and posted a video showing him sitting in a long line of tanks in an open field, all flying the yellow and blue flag of Ukraine.
It was a great pleasure to take on the first Ukrainian Challenger 2 MBT (Main Battle Tank),” wrote Reznikov. “These magnificent machines will soon begin their combat missions,” he added, referring to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as well as Wallace.
In the video, he gives the thumbs up and thanks British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace for the tanks, as they tear around the muddy field.
Five armored vehicles are seen in this photo released by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. From left to right: American-made MRAP Cougar, American-made Stryker armored fighting vehicle, British-made Challenger 2 main battle tank, German-made BMP Marder, and Canadian-made Roshel Senator. Ukraine’s defense minister can be seen front (centre)
“Wonderful, Ben,” he said in English. “It’s… very good stuff.” Thank you very much from Ukraine to the UK.
In addition to the video, the Armed Forces of Ukraine shared a photo of the British Challenger 2 lined up with four other vehicles sent to Ukraine from its allies.
The photo showed an MRAP Cougar alongside a Stryker armored fighting vehicle – both a US-made BMP Marder, and a Canadian-made Roshel Senator.
Ukrainian soldiers flew the flags of the Ukrainian Air Force, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Ukraine in front of the vehicles, while Ukrainian flags were flown from the top of each piece of military equipment as well.
The German Defense Ministry also said on Monday that 18 Leopard 2 battle tanks and 40 Mardier infantry fighting vehicles had also arrived in Ukraine.
“I am sure they can make a decisive contribution on the front,” German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said on Twitter.
The £5 million Challenger 2, armed with a 120mm cannon and 7.62mm machine gun, is a battle tank designed to attack other tanks.
The British Army says it is the UK’s only secured 24-hour all-weather mobile tank with protected, accurate direct fire and anti-tank maneuverability.
An earlier version of the tank claimed the longest distance kill in history, with the war machine destroying an Iraqi tank from three miles away during the Norse War.
The Challenger 2 has a crew of four and has a range of 340 miles on the road and 160 miles off-road. However, it has a top speed of around 37 mph, which means it is only slightly slower than the German Leopard tank.
British military leaders described the 75-ton Challenger II as a modern tank that was “much better protected, more reliable and faster” than Soviet-era Russian tanks.
Meanwhile, Leopard 2s are seen as workhorses for militaries across Europe and are therefore in the arsenals of many countries wishing to send aid to Ukraine.
Canada, Norway and Poland also sent such tanks to Ukraine.
Rheinmetall AG, the German defense company making the 120mm smoothbore gun on the Leopard 2, says the tank has been deployed by ‘more countries than any other’, with 3,500 units supplied to 19 countries. More than 2,000 of these have been sent to more than a dozen European countries and Canada.
It was this large number of Leopard tanks that meant they were seen as the best option for Ukraine – as they could be easily deployed to Ukraine – with the ease of repair and replacement if any were damaged or destroyed.
The tank’s manufacturer, Krauss-Massei Wegmann, described it as ‘the world’s leading battle tank’ with a 120mm smoothbore gun and a fully digital fire control system. It also costs around £5 million and has a top speed of 45mph.
Britain said in January it would send 14 tanks to Ukraine, which is preparing for a possible counter-attack against Russian forces that invaded 13 months ago. They have now reached Ukraine, and were seen in a video shared on Tuesday tearing up a field
Pictured: A row of British-made Challenger 2 tanks is seen in a field in a video released by Ukraine’s defense minister on Tuesday.
In the video, the Ukrainian Defense Minister (pictured) gave the thumbs up and thanked British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace for the Challenger 2 tanks.
What is the difference between the German Leopard 2 main battle tanks and the British Challenger 2?
As more military aid reaches Ukraine, analysts expect Kiev to launch a counteroffensive to begin in earnest during April and May as the weather improves.
The front lines in Ukraine have barely moved for more than four months despite Russia’s winter offensive, with the fiercest fighting centered on the eastern city of Bakhmut, which has been likened to the “meat grinder” of World War I.
It is understood that the Ukrainian military aims to wear down the Russian forces before launching their offensive, hoping to push Putin’s armies back further.
Russia’s Wagner mercenary force, believed to have suffered heavy losses in eastern Ukraine (some estimates put the group’s losses as high as 50,000), is seeking to replenish its ranks ahead of any Ukrainian counterattack.
A huge recruitment advertisement for the group appeared on the facade of an office building in northeastern Moscow.
It displays the Wagner logo and slogans such as “Join the Winning Team!” and “Together We Will Win” with an image of a masked man holding a gun.
On the battlefield, Russian forces appear to be concentrating on Avdiivka, 55 miles south of the mining-stricken city of Bakhmut, while a Ukrainian general said his country’s forces are planning their next move.
Ukraine closed Avdiivka to civilians on Monday, with an official describing the city as a “post-apocalyptic” wasteland.
The Ukrainian military warned that Avdiivka could become a “second Bakhmut”, which was reduced to rubble in months of fighting that both sides described as a “meat grinder”. Russian forces say they are fighting street by street.
The commander of the Ukrainian ground forces, Col. Gen. Oleksandr Sersky, who said this month that the counterattack was “not far off”, visited troops on the front lines in the east and said his forces were still repelling attacks on Bakhmut.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian authorities said air defenses shot down 12 drones near Kiev on Monday and falling debris set a non-residential site on fire. There were no reports of injuries.
Today, Tuesday, the Ukrainian army said that Russia launched a total of 15 Iranian-made Shahed drones at night over Ukraine, while Ukrainian forces destroyed 14 of them.
Ukrainian soldiers ride on top of a military vehicle on the front line in Pakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Sunday, March 26.
Ukrainian soldiers ride on top of an armored personnel carrier at the front line in Pakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Sunday, March 26.
A destroyed building in this aerial view of Bakhmut, the site of fierce battles with Russian forces in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, Sunday, March 26.
A British Challenger 2 main battle tank during a maneuver in 2017 (file photo). The United Kingdom sent 14 heavy tanks to help Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion
“The logic of the Russians’ actions is terrorism targeting civilian infrastructure,” Ukraine’s presidential chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said on Telegram about the drone attacks.
“It won’t work, just like geopolitical blackmail.”
Since Putin’s “demilitarized” invasion of Ukraine in the fall, he and other Russian officials have exaggerated the potential for the war to escalate to include nuclear weapons.
On Saturday, he said he had struck a deal to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. Ukraine and its Western allies condemned the plan.