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Stunning pictures have been released by the Ministry of Defence to mark the graduation of Ukraine’s tank drivers after a gruelling accelerated training course. After several weeks of training on operating the Challenger 2 tanks with the British Army, members of Kyiv’s armed forces are now fully prepared to use the tanks to spearhead a counter-offensive against the Russian military.
The training occurred following Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s announcement in January that the UK would send 14 Challenger 2 tanks to assist in Ukraine’s defence.
Pictures released by the Ministry of Defence on Tuesday show Ukrainian tank crews getting to know their new vehicles.
The intensive course on the Salisbury Plans involved Ukrainian soldiers learning how to work as a team and manoeuvre the Challenger 2s.
British military personnel also taught the Ukrainians how to effectively identify and engage targets.
British-supplied Challenger 2 main battle tanks will soon begin combat missions in Ukraine, the country’s defence minister said.
Oleksii Reznikov said the “fantastic” tanks has “recently” arrived in Ukraine.
The UK promised 14 of the vehicles to Ukraine, a move which helped persuade other Western nations to supply their own tanks to aid the fight against the Russian invasion.
Mr Reznikov posted a video on social media showing him taking one of the Challenger 2s “for a spin” in Ukraine.
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He thanks Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, adding: “These fantastic machines will soon begin their combat missions.”
Ukrainian tank crews trained in the UK on the machines, which are being donated by the Government along with ammunition and spares.
Mr Wallace, who visited the Ukrainian troops during their training at Bovington Camp in Dorset last month, said: “It is truly inspiring to witness the determination of Ukrainian soldiers having completed their training on British Challenger 2 tanks on British soil.
“They return to their homeland better equipped, but to no less danger.
“We will continue to stand by them and do all we can to support Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
Russia has condemned the UK’s move and predicted the tanks would “burn” on the battlefields of Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin has also reacted to the UK’s decision to supply depleted uranium armour-piercing rounds for the tanks in Ukraine by announcing plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in neighbouring Belarus.
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