Russia says British tanks pledged to Ukraine will ‘burn’ on battlefield

Kyiv says fight for Soledar continues as death toll from Dnipro missile strike reaches 40

Britain said tanks and artillery guns that it plans to send to Kyiv will help it expel Russian troops from its territory, as the Kremlin vowed that those weapons and other western military aid would “burn” on the battlefields of Ukraine.

Ukraine said its troops were still fighting for the devastated salt-mining town of Soledar in the eastern Donetsk region – which Moscow claimed to have captured last week – and said 40 people had now died following a Russian missile strike on an apartment block on Saturday in the city of Dnipro.

“Today, I can announce the most significant package of combat power to date to accelerate Ukrainian success. This includes a squadron of Challenger 2 tanks with armoured recovery and repair vehicles,” British defence secretary Ben Wallace said, adding that the UK would also send more artillery pieces, air defence systems and ammunition to Kyiv.

He called the weaponry an “important increase to Ukrainian capabilities” that would help its military ensure that Russia’s invasion forces were “ejected from their defensive positions and expelled from the country”.


Poland has said it is willing to send about 14 German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine as part of an “international coalition”, and Kyiv hopes more allies will make similar commitments when their defence officials meet to discuss military supply issues on Friday.

Pressure is mounting on Germany to pledge tanks to Ukraine and to allow Poland and other operators of the Leopard to transfer them to Kyiv.

“Britain, other European countries, Poland and so on, which are now speculating about their intention to start a new round of supply of new, more advanced military equipment to Ukraine, are incapable of changing the situation on the ground. They should realise this,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.

“It can’t change anything … The special military operation will continue. These tanks burn well and will burn just like all the others. The goals of the special military operation will be achieved,” he added, using Russia’s official terminology for an invasion that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.

The Kremlin said Russian president Vladimir Putin spoke by telephone to Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and criticised “the destructive line of the Kyiv regime, which is banking on intensifying hostilities with support from western sponsors that are increasing the volume of transferred weapons and military equipment.”

Kyiv warned on Monday that Russia could use air force training drills now taking place in neighbouring Belarus to launch more missiles at Ukraine, where rescue workers continued to search through the rubble of an apartment block in Dnipro for survivors of a rocket strike on Saturday that killed at least 40 people and injured dozens more.

“The east of Ukraine remains the main area of the aggressor’s attack. The enemy focused its main attack on the Bakhmut front, especially in the area of Soledar, where battles are continuing. Ukrainian units continue to defend the city itself and its outskirts,” said Ukrainian military spokesman Serhiy Cherevatiy.

Russia claimed last week that it had taken Soledar – giving it a platform to seize nearby Bakhmut – after street battles undertaken by mercenaries from the so-called Wagner group, which has recruited convicts from prison on the promise of a pardon if they survive Ukraine.

Police in Norway said a man claiming to be a former Wagner commander fled to the country across an ice-covered river from Russia last Friday.

Russian NGO – now operating in exile – said the man, named as Andrei Medvedev, was ready to “testify about the mass shootings and other crimes of Prigozhin and his accomplices”, in reference to Wagner founder and Kremlin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin is a contributor to The Irish Times from central and eastern Europe