Challenger 2 main battle tank
The UK is giving Ukraine 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks (Picture: MOD).
Ukraine

UK backs Ukraine's effectiveness with Challenger 2s after Russia claims they 'will burn'

Challenger 2 main battle tank
The UK is giving Ukraine 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks (Picture: MOD).

Downing Street has expressed confidence that Ukraine will use British tanks effectively after Russia claimed Challenger 2s "will burn just like the rest" when the UK delivers the heavy weapons to the Ukrainian frontline.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak earlier agreed to deliver a squadron of the tanks to Ukraine to aid the country's efforts in re-taking territory lost to Russian forces.

It would mean Russia would be fighting an undefeated platform – not once has the Challenger 2 been destroyed at the hands of an enemy.

No 10 says there is a "plethora of evidence" showing Volodymyr Zelensky's troops have used UK-supplied weapons successfully and minsters fully expected them to continue.

The Kremlin has sought to downplay the significance of the UK's move to supply increasingly more advanced weapons to aid the resistance.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said "these tanks are burning and will burn just like the rest", claiming the supplies were an attempt to draw out the conflict.

But Rishi Sunak's official spokesman said: "We have seen very clearly that the Ukrainian armed forces have been very effective with the equipment that we have provided to them.

"I think there is a plethora of evidence for that and we are confident they will do so again."

The Prime Minister hopes the UK’s intensifying support will increase the pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin and galvanise support among Western allies.

He signed off on sending 14 British Army Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Kyiv, as well as around 30 AS90 self-propelled guns during a call with Ukrainian leader Mr Zelensky over the weekend.

Watch: What can the AS90 155mm self-propelled gun offer to Ukraine?

Mr Sunak's spokesman said: "We believe that a long and static war only serves to benefit Russia. That's why we are surging our military support.

"The Prime Minister and ministers are speaking to our allies across the world in the following days and weeks to ramp up the pressure on Putin and to secure a better future for Ukraine."

Mr Zelensky said the move would "not only strengthen us on the battlefield but also send the right signal to other partners".

Mr Sunak's spokesman said the UK was "confident" allies would act in a "co-ordinated way".

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace will meet with allies to discuss further military support for Kyiv.

Next month will mark the first anniversary of Mr Putin's invasion, but Western analysts believe he is preparing for a drawn-out war.

The duration combined with continued atrocities was increasing the pressure to support Ukraine's resistance.

Authorities on Monday said the death toll from a Russian missile strike on an apartment building in Dnipro had risen to 40.

Rescuers were working to locate victims and survivors in the wreckage of the strike on a multi-story building that housed around 1,700 people in the southeastern city.

Meanwhile, Mr Cleverly welcomed being among multiple Cabinet ministers and the Army's Chief of the General Staff, Sir Patrick Sanders, who have been sanctioned by Russia.

"Good," the Foreign Secretary tweeted in response to Moscow's move over the weekend.

"If this is the price for supporting Ukrainian freedom, then I'm happy to be sanctioned #SlavaUkraini."