The Ukrainian Defense Ministry announced it has received light anti-tank weapons from the UK to bolster its defenses amid “increasingly threatening behavior from Russia.”
The delivery comes amid reports that the Russian government plans to launch an invasion soon since it has been amassing troops and military equipment near its border with Ukraine.
According to a story by The Drive, several British C-17 cargo planes began flying military equipment to Ukraine’s Boryspil International Airport on Monday, allegedly taking a route designed to avoid German airspace.
“We have taken the decision to supply Ukraine with light anti-armor defensive weapons systems,” British defense secretary Ben Wallace said. “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-defense.”
Although the precise anti-tank weapons delivered to Ukraine were not disclosed, military experts said they were likely handheld next-generation light anti-tank weapons designed to help combat Russia’s tank-heavy army.
In addition to anti-tank weapons, Wallace said the UK would send “a small number” of British troops to Kyiv to provide early-stage weapons training.
The pro-Russian separatist Donetsk Republic is aware of the increasing military aid from other nations to Ukraine, including the shipment of handheld grenade launchers with a range of up to 800 meters (0.5 miles).
People’s Militia deputy head Eduard Basurin told Rossiya-1 that the weapons are “relatively non-threatening” and they could just have been supplied to the Ukrainian military to “write off funds” or “embezzle” the Ukrainian Army.
“This cannot be threatening for us in principle, we are not afraid of that,” Basurin said, as quoted by the state-run TASS News Agency.
‘Sending a Message’
NATO members have long maintained that they would not intervene militarily to defend Ukraine in a conflict with Russia but said they would be prepared to hit Moscow with economic sanctions.
Wallace said he hopes that the arrival of more armaments in Ukraine would send a message to the Kremlin ahead of any potential invasion.
“I hope – because I think President Putin has still not made a final decision – but I hope that that is enough to ward the Kremlin off, a united front on sanctions, which is what we are developing, prepared and ready if something were to happen, a strong resilience in Ukraine should at the very least give people a pause for thought,” he told The Guardian.