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UK supplies arms to Ukraine, increasing tension with Russia

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace announced that the United Kingdom has begun supplying anti-tank weapons to Ukraine due to “the increasingly threatening behavior from Russia” in the region.

Faced with Russia’s increased military deployment on the Ukrainian border, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies have toughened their stance against the country led by Vladimir Putin. 

Britain did not lag behind its NATO allies and announced that it is already sending weapons to Ukraine on its northern border with Belarus. Reuters reported It is considered the most likely route for any Russian invasion.

“We have taken the decision to supply Ukraine with light anti-armour defensive weapons systems,” Wallace told the House of Commons on Monday, adding that “a small number” of British troops would provide training to help Kyiv forces use them.

Putin has criticized those countries that have donated, sold, or lent arms to Ukraine, viewing such action as a provocation to the conflict.

Trade and arms deals between the UK and Ukraine are not new. Indeed in the past, the UK has sold ships and naval equipment to Ukraine, and last year announced a £1.7 billion deal to supply two minesweepers and jointly build eight ships for its small Black Sea fleet.

Faced with the potential conflict that the UK announcement would generate, Wallace clarified his position:

“Let me be clear: this support is for short-range and clearly defensive weapon capabilities; they are not strategic weapons and pose no threat to Russia; they are to use in self-defence.” 

The type and quantity of weapons delivered to Ukraine were not confirmed by any official document. Still, defense officials indicated that they were man-portable light anti-tank weapons, similar to those provided by the U.S. since 2018, which are ideal for taking out tanks with high precision. 

Wallace also indicated that he would invite his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, for bilateral talks in London. However, it was unclear whether there was any formal invitation or simply a comment in front of journalists.

“We are ready to discuss issues related to mutual security concerns and engage constructively, in good faith,” the British minister said.

Last week members of NATO and other Western powers held meetings with Russian authorities to reach agreements on the simmering conflict in the border area with Ukraine, but no positive results were reported.

On the contrary, the West rejected Moscow’s demands, raising concerns that Russia might be ready to consider military options to reassert greater control over Ukraine.

In that regard, Wallace threw more fuel on the fire and asserted:

“Any invasion will not be viewed as a ‘liberation’ but as occupation, and I fear that it could lead to huge loss of life on all sides.”

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