UK Sends Anti-Tank Missiles To Ukraine As Russia Moves Troops To Belarus

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Fears have been mounting in Ukraine that Russia, which Kyiv says has massed around 100,000 troops on its side of the border, is plotting to launch a large-scale attack
Fears have been mounting in Ukraine that Russia, which Kyiv says has massed around 100,000 troops on its side of the border, is plotting to launch a large-scale attack

Cargo planes carrying Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapons from the UK arrived at the Ukrainian capital of Kiev Tuesday amid reports that Russian has moved troops and weapons to ally Belarus, which shares a border with Ukraine.

The U.K. Royal Air Force (RAF) C-17 cargo planes carrying the shipment arrived as part of Operation Orbital, a British military's security assistance mission in Ukraine which began in 2015 following Russia's seizure of Crimea, reported The Drive.

"We have taken the decision to supply Ukraine with light, anti-armor, defensive weapon systems," U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Tuesday. "A small number of U.K. personnel will also provide early-stage training for a short period of time, within the framework of Operation Orbital before returning to the United Kingdom," he added.

Though Wallace claimed "they are not strategic weapons and pose no threat to Russia," the U.K. authorities did not specify what "anti-armor" weapons they are supplying to the Ukrainian military. However, a tweet by the Ukrainian authorities said aircraft were carrying Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapons (NLAW). A video accompanying the tweet suggests hundreds of such missiles may have arrived at Kiev. 

Anti-tank weapons are considered an important equalizer for the Ukrainian military in any future large-scale conflict with Russia. This comes as reports say Russia has lined up tanks and armored fighting vehicles, as well as rocket artillery systems and short-range ballistic missiles along Ukraine's borders.

The Ukrainian military has also used American-made Javelin anti-tank missiles on Russian troops which they believe have a "significant psychological deterrent value making Russians think twice about attacking."

The RAF's massive shipment to Ukraine also underscores how war threat is looming over the region, with Ukraine at the receiving end. "We’re now at a stage where Russia could at any point launch an attack on Ukraine," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said today.

Amid this, reports said Russian troops and hardware have begun arriving in ex-Soviet Belarus Monday for the “Allied Resolve” drills to be held near Belarus’s western border.

Though Deputy Russian Defence Minister Alexander Fomin was quoted by Reuters that the drill was just to "fine-tune the tasks of suppressing and repelling external aggression during a defensive operation," the West fears that an invasion is impending, as there seems to be no move from Moscow to deescalate the Ukrainian border.

The Ukrainian Military believes that Russia can launch an attack from Belarus and according to the U.S., Kremlin may use the joint military exercises inside Belarus as cover for an invasion of Ukraine from the north. 




Photo: AFP / Sergei SUPINSKY

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