Britain on Tuesday said its groundbreaking decision to supply tanks to Ukraine to fight Russia was a “moral imperative” as the United States said more military aid would come.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, visiting Washington, said Britain was sending a signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin by backing the Ukrainians and becoming the first nation to agree to their request for Western tanks.
“What Putin should understand is that we will have the strategic strength to stick with them until the job is done. And the best thing he can do to preserve the lives of his own troops is to recognize that we will stay with the Ukrainians until they are victorious,” he told the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“It costs a lot more in lives and a lot more in money if we allow this to be a long and protracted war of attrition,” he said.
“There are body bags returning from the front from Russia as well as from the Ukrainians. So the moral imperative is to bring this to a conclusion.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Saturday that his government would supply 14 Challenger 2 tanks, leading Russia to accuse Britain of making the conflict worse.
After meeting with Cleverly, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said we “applaud” the tank’s decision.
He stopped short of saying the US would also send tanks, but noted that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will meet with US allies in Ukraine later this week.
“I would anticipate that you will hear more announcements in the coming days,” Blinken said at a joint news conference.
“We have continuously delivered what Ukraine needs and we are doing it in a way to make sure it responds to what is actually happening on the battlefield,” Blinken said.
European countries have previously supplied modernized versions of Soviet tanks to Kiev, and the United States and France have committed to lighter versions, with Washington sending Bradley armored vehicles.
Germany has faced calls from other Europeans to do more, with Chancellor Olaf Scholz poised to decide whether to approve Leopard tanks for Ukraine.
Scholz has engaged in a major upgrade of the German military, moving away from his country’s previous hesitation related to the legacy of the war and efforts to engage Russia.
When asked about the Leopard debate, Blinken said military shipments are “sovereign decisions for each country to make,” but called Germany’s efforts “quite extraordinary,” hailing Berlin for recently joining the United States in giving Ukraine a Patriot missile defense system.
Cleverly he said Britain decided to send tanks to the Ukrainians because “what we recognize we need is the ability to push back hard to the east and south,” areas Russia has been trying to seize since its nearly launched invasion. 11 months ago.
“If Putin believed the world would give in to Ukraine fatigue and lose the will to resist his ambitions, then that was yet again another colossal misjudgment on his part,” Cleverly said.
President Joe Biden has held out against sending long-range missiles to Ukraine, fearing an attack deep inside Russia could spark a direct conflict between Washington and Moscow.