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Sending tanks to Ukraine to leave UK army temporarily weaker: Senior military official

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
UK Army General Sir Patrick Sanders

A senior British army commander warns that sending tanks and artillery guns to Ukraine would leave the UK army "temporarily weaker."

In an internal message sent to troops, Sir Patrick Sanders, the head of the British army, said the promised delivery of Challenger 2 tanks to Kiev would leave the British army "temporarily weaker."

"There is no doubt that our choice will impact our ability to mobilize the army against the acute and enduring threat Russia presents and meet our NATO obligations," Sanders said in a message seen by BBC.

On Saturday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised to send 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine in the coming weeks. According to Downing Street, the move showed "the UK's ambition to intensify support" for Ukraine in its war with Russia.

Russia immediately reacted to the move, saying the UK used Ukraine as a tool to achieve what it said was London's anti-Russia goals.

Russia started a military campaign in Ukraine with the declared aim of "de-Nazifying" the country in February last year. Ever since, Britain, the United States, and its Western allies have imposed waves of unprecedented economic sanctions on Moscow and have given Ukraine tens of billions of dollars' worth of weaponry, including rocket systems, drones, armored vehicles, and communication systems.

UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told the House of Commons on Monday that he needed more money for the military. The Ministry of Defense has pledged to spend £24 billion on re-equipping the army over the next decade. But many of the new upgrades will not be fully operational until the early 2030s.

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