Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador has warned Rishi Sunak “better think twice” before sending tanks to Ukraine. He said the Prime Minister “is becoming more and more involved with direct confrontation with a military power”, warning “the stakes are very high.” Dmitry Polyanskiy warned that everything sent to Ukraine will be “destroyed and demolished”.
He said NATO’s involvement in Ukraine has turned the conflict into a “proxy war”, warning that Russia is “fighting with NATO in Ukraine”.
The UK is currently weighing up whether or not to send tanks to Ukraine for the first time, to assist them in their defence against the Russian invasion.
When asked by LBC’s Andrew Marry what the Russian reaction to Western powers sending tanks would be, Mr Polyanskiy said: “Well, I think we’ve already said, that everything that is being delivered to Ukraine is becoming an absolutely legal target and it will be destroyed and demolished as all the other deliveries that were sent before and of course, these kind of discussions are proving the fact that NATO is being more and more deeply involved in this crisis and this is a very dangerous situation.
“I wonder if you heard what Minister of Defence Reznikov of Ukraine said today?
“That Ukraine is actually fulfilling and implementing the mission of NATO and Ukraine is losing blood and NATO is not losing blood and that’s why the West should provide Ukraine with more weapons and money.
“So, I think that’s absolutely clear that we are fighting with NATO in Ukraine. It’s a proxy war.”
He added: “Well, it’s of course a very dangerous crossroad and it’s up to our colleagues in NATO to make the calculations themselves.
“He is becoming more and more involved in direct confrontation with a military power.
“I think the stakes are very high. I don’t need to speculate more on this.”
Discussions have been taking place “for a few weeks” about delivering a number of the British Army’s Challenger 2 main battle tank to the Ukrainian armed forces, a Western source told Sky news last week.
Such a move would mark a significant step-up in Western military support to Ukraine and could put pressure on other NATO allies such as Germany to follow suit.
A Ukrainian source said: “It will be a good precedent to demonstrate [to] others – to Germany first of all, with their Leopards… and Abrams from the United States”.
One source claimed Britain may offer around 10 Challenger 2 tanks, which would be enough to equip a squadron.
In a joint statement released last week, Berlin and Washington confirmed that they would supply Ukraine with armoured combat vehicles.
For Germany, this means the Marder infantry fighting vehicle. For the US, it comprises the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
However, Ukraine has long requested the German-made Leopard II tanks but Berlin has not yet agreed to supply them to Kyiv.