Defence Secretary announces combat power package for Ukraine

The Secretary of State for Defence today set out details of the most significant package of combat power to date to accelerate Ukrainian success in the war with Russia, including a squadron of Challenger 2 tanks.

Ben Wallace said that Russia, "isolated and without such support, has now lost over 1,600 main battle tanks in Ukraine since the start of the invasion. But if we’re to continue helping Ukraine seize the upper hand in the next phase of this conflict, we must accelerate our collective efforts diplomatically, economically and militarily to keep the pressure on Putin."

The Defence Secretary announced to the House of Commons the details of the combat power package which includes:

·       A squadron of Challenger 2 tanks with armoured recovery and repair vehicles

·       The donation of around thirty AS90 guns, comprising a battery of eight guns at high readiness and two further batteries at varying states of readiness 

·       Hundreds more armoured and protected vehicles will also be sent including Bulldog

·       A manoeuvre support package, including minefield breaching and bridging capabilities worth £28 million

·       Dozens more uncrewed aerial systems worth £20 million to support Ukrainian artillery

·       Another 100,000 artillery rounds; on top of the 100,000 rounds already delivered.

·       Hundreds more sophisticated missiles including GMLRS rockets, Starstreak air defence missiles, and medium range air defence missiles

·       An equipment support package of spares to refurbish up to a hundred Ukrainian tanks and infantry fighting vehicles

Today's package is an important increase in Ukraine's capabilities. It means they can go from resisting to expelling Russian forces from Ukrainian soil. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace

The Challenger tank will be the most modern tank at Ukraine’s disposal, providing Ukrainian troops with better protection and more accurate firepower.

The A90s are large, self-propelled guns, operated by five gunners.

The UK will begin training the Ukrainian Armed Forces to use the tanks and guns in the coming days, as part of wider UK efforts which have seen thousands of Ukrainian troops trained in the UK over the last six months.

Ben Wallace said, "Today’s package is an important increase in Ukraine’s capabilities. It means they can go from resisting to expelling Russian forces from Ukrainian soil."

As the first anniversary of the war approaches, the Prime Minister has stressed the need for an international strategy to break the stalemate.

The Defence Secretary has been tasked with bringing together European allies to ensure the surge of global military support is as strategic and coordinated as possible. The Defence Secretary will travel to Estonia and Germany this week to work with NATO allies and other international partners to this end.

The Prime Minister is set to accelerate the UK’s diplomatic and military support to Ukraine in the weeks ahead in a bid to push Russia further back and secure a lasting peace.

UK defence and security officials believe a window has opened up where Russia is on the back foot due to resupply issues and plummeting morale. Allies are therefore being encouraged to deploy their planned support for 2023 as soon as possible to have maximum impact.