Ben Hatton, PA Political Staff
Thu, 5 January 2023 at 6:46 pm GMT
Tanks “may well be part” of future support for Ukraine, the Foreign Secretary has said.
But James Cleverly did not commit the UK to providing armoured fighting vehicles when asked twice during a press conference, saying that if tanks were to be part of future support then allied nations would need to co-ordinate to decide which countries would provide them.
The French Defence Ministry has said it plans talks soon with its Ukrainian counterpart on delivering armoured combat vehicles.
France’s presidency said it would be the first time this type of western-made wheeled tank destroyer is sent to Ukraine’s military.
Mr Cleverly was speaking at a press conference at Lancaster House after a meeting with German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock. The pair said they discussed a range of issues, including energy security, the Northern Ireland Protocol, the war in Ukraine, and cultural exchanges.
Pushed on whether the UK would join other nations in sending armoured fighting vehicles to Ukraine, Mr Cleverly said: “We have been providing the kind of military equipment that is able to put a decisive… punch against Russian targets at range.
“We will continue to speak with the Ukrainians about what they need for the next phase of their self-defence and we will continue working with our international partners about ensuring that we provide that.
“Tanks might well be part of that. Where they come from, which allies provide them, is something that of course we are working on in co-ordination with each other.
“The way we have supported the Ukrainians has evolved as the conflict has evolved, and we will continue to evolve our support to ensure that it is effective and we will continue to work with our allies to make sure that support is co-ordinated.”
Mr Cleverly said he and Ms Baerbock “recommitted ourselves to our unwavering support for Ukraine in their fight against Russia’s illegal and barbaric invasion, and we committed to holding Russia accountable for its atrocities”.
He also praised her “huge political courage over the last year in standing by Ukraine”, and said he had seen the “bold and important decisions that the German public has made”.
He said a “turning point” in German foreign policy has “reaffirmed Germany’s incredibly important position as a friend and ally in terms of Euro-Atlantic security”.