British Army chief warns UK vulnerable to Russian threat

Russian soldier fumes about tanks in leaked call

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The head of the British army, General Sir Patrick Sanders, has said the UK is now more vulnerable to a threat from Russia after donating heavy armour to the Ukrainian military.It comes after the Government confirmed that it is donating 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine. The move comes amid growing pressure to send tanks, alongside armoured fighting vehicles, to the besieged country. The move has been welcomed by Ukrainian officials, but some in the UK, such as General Sir Patrick Sanders, are concerned.

General Sir Patrick Sanders, head of British Army, spoke to about the decision to donate tanks to Ukraine.

He said that while that Ukraine “needs our tanks and guns now” and will put them to “good use” in the war with Russi, that it leaves the British army “temporarily weaker”
General Sir Patrick added that it was essential that the Army’s “warfighting capability” was restored at pace.

In a video posted on the military intranet he said: “There is no doubt that our choice will impact our ability to mobilise the army against the acute and enduring threat Russia presents and meet our Nato obligations.

“Our tank crews and gunners will feel the impact the most, but the decision also brings the opportunity to accelerate the modernisation and transformation of the Army ahead of Russia.”

Alongside 14 tanks, the UK is also sending 30 AS90s, self-propelled guns, to the Ukrainian armed forces.

In a statement earlier today in Parliament, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace echoed General Sander’s concerns about the need to reinvest in Britain’s armed forces. He added he would “build on the Army’s modenration programme at pace, specifically on artillery”.

However, despite General Sander’s concerns, the move has been well-received internationally.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said the move “wiill not only strengthen us on the battlefield, but also send the right signal to other partners”.

He added that the UK’s support was “always strong” and “now impenetrable”.

In a call between Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Zelensky, the two men discussed the “need to seize on this moment with an acceleration fo global military and diplomatic support”.

Talking to BBC Breakfast this morning, Chair of the Defence Select Committee Tobias Ellwood said he wlecomed the UK “getting serious about the hardware” it is supplying to Ukraine.

He criticised wider international support as being “far too slow”.

He added: “That’s exactly what Russia wants us to do – to remain hesitant. Unless we step forward and support Ukraine, Russia will not go away – and that will mean the bully has won.”

While other nations have been hesitant, the UK hasn’t been the only country on the front foot.

EU member Poland has said it plans to send 14 of its Leopard tanks, but the country is waiting on permission from Germany – who build the tanks – to send them.

Despite this bureacratic hurdle, Poland’s desire shows there is growing support for sending heavy armour to Ukraine.

Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey said that Labour would give full backing to sending the 14 Challengers.

He added: “Modern tanks are crucial to Ukraine’s efforts to win its battle against Russian aggression.”

The aim is that the tanks will help Ukrainian forces potentially break through Russian lines to both the south and the east.

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