Britain sends 2,000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine amid fears of Russian invasion

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Britain’s armed forces have flown some 2,000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine this week amid fears of an imminent, new Russian invasion.

British surveillance aircraft have also been spotted.

Open source flight-tracking software has plotted Royal Air Force C-17 transport aircraft flying back and forth between the UK and Ukraine.

A British military cargo C-17 plane unloads anti-tank weapons in Ukraine
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A British military cargo C-17 plane unloads anti-tank weapons in Ukraine

Sky News understands that “several” flights have taken place since Monday.

The Daily Mail first reported that the UK had sent 2,000 anti-tank missile launchers in the airlifts. This figure is thought to be accurate.

George Allison, of the UK Defence Journal, a website focused on defence news, posted on Twitter a time-lapse of the flights, which he said began on Monday.

The UK is understood to have gifted the Next Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapon, (NLAW), which is described by its manufacturers as “the first ever single soldier missile system that rapidly knocks out any Main Battle Tank in just one shot by striking it from above”.

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The movement of weapons came after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced to parliament on Monday that Britain would increase its military support to Ukraine, which also included an increase in British military personnel on the ground as trainers.

“We have taken the decision to supply Ukraine with light, anti-armour, defensive weapon systems,” he said.

Service members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces gather near a BM-21 "Grad" multiple rocket launcher during tactical military exercises at a shooting range in the Kherson region, Ukraine, January 19, 2022. Picture taken January 19, 2022. Ukrainian Defence Ministry/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
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A BM-21 ‘Grad’ multiple rocket launcher is pictured in Kherson, Ukraine on Wednesday

“A small number of UK personnel will also provide early-stage training for a short period of time, within the framework of Operation Orbital, before then returning to the UK.”

UK insists military support poses ‘no threat to Russia’

Operation Orbital is the name of a British training mission in Ukraine that was set up in 2015 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea the previous year and backing of an insurgency in the east of the country.

Service members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces gather near BM-21 "Grad" multiple rocket launchers during tactical military exercises at a shooting range in the Kherson region, Ukraine, January 19, 2022. Picture taken January 19, 2022. Ukrainian Defence Ministry/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
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Military assistance is being offered on a ‘short-range’ basis

Mr Wallace added: “Let me be clear: this support is for short-range, and clearly defensive weapons capabilities; they are not strategic weapons and pose no threat to Russia.

“They are to use in self-defence and the UK personnel providing the early-stage training will return to the UK after completing it.”

Service members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces gather near vehicles, including BM-21 "Grad" multiple rocket launchers, during tactical military exercises at a shooting range in the Kherson region, Ukraine, January 19, 2022. Picture taken January 19, 2022. Ukrainian Defence Ministry/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
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Military exercises take place at a shooting range in the Kherson region, of Ukraine

But Russia viewed the move with suspicion.

The Russian Embassy to the UK posted on Twitter: “It is crystal clear that UK shipment of lethal weapons to Ukraine will only fuel the crisis.”

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