Ukraine could ‘break’ the Russian army if it was given enough weapons from Western allies, British government sources have claimed.
Last night, intelligence chiefs told The Times there is a more positive mood on the Ukrainian side with a belief that the Russian army is ‘exhausted’ and could be pushed back with better weaponry.
The weaponry sought by the Ukrainians has been compiled into a shopping list and submitted to allies. It is believed to include aircraft, tanks, armoured vehicles, long range artillery, anti-ship missiles and air defence systems.
Today, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Thursday called on NATO members to provide Kyiv with all the military equipment it needs to fight Russia, demanding ‘weapons, weapons and weapons.’
Yesterday, the Czech Republic became the first NATO member to supply tanks to Ukraine and now Britain is considering following suit.
The Ministry of Defence is said to be considering providing reconnaissance or long-range and protective patrol vehicles, such as the Mastiff or a Jackal. Sensitive equipment would be stripped from the vehicles and British soldiers sent to a neighbouring country of Ukraine to carry out training, a defence source said.
Additional support – which is likely to include anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles – is also expected to be announced in the coming days. It is hoped this will help to enable Ukrainian troops to push towards Russian lines.
The next three weeks are thought to be crucial in deciding the outcome of the war.
It comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Moscow is trying to push deeper into the country’s east, where the Kremlin has said its goal is to ‘liberate’ the Donbas, Ukraine’s mostly Russian-speaking industrial heartland.
The Ukrainian leader called for more weapons to stop Russia taking Donbas.
In a video message on the Telegram app he said: ‘If there is no really painful package of sanctions against Russia and if there is no supply of weapons we really need and have applied for many times, it will be considered by Russia as a permission.
‘A permission to go further. A permission to attack. A permission to start a new bloody wave in Donbas.’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that Moscow is trying to push deeper into the country’s east, where the Kremlin has said its goal is to ‘liberate’ the Donbas
A destroyed Russian tank is seen on a highway, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv region
Yesterday, the Czech Republic became the first NATO member to supply tanks to Ukraine and now Britain is considering following suit. Pictured is a Mastiff 2 armoured vehicle
‘The fate of our land and of our people is being decided. We know what we are fighting for. And we will do everything to win,’ Mr Zelensky said, six weeks into the war.
Meanwhile Kuleba said today ahead of a meeting with NATO foreign ministers in Brussels: ‘My agenda is very simple. It has only three items on it. Its weapons, weapons, and weapons.
‘I call on all allies to put aside their hesitations, their reluctance, to provide Ukraine with everything it needs,’ he said.
Kuleba said economic powerhouse Germany ‘can do more’ as he criticised allies that remain reluctant to send so-called ‘offensive’ arms.
‘This distinction between defensive and offensive doesn’t make any sense when it comes to the situation in my country.
‘Those countries who are saying we will provide Ukraine with defensive weapons, but we are not in a position to provide them with offensive weapons – they are hypocritical, this is simply unfair, unjustified approach.’
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said he was certain that allies would ‘address the need for more air defence systems, anti-tank weapons, lighter, but also heavier weapons and many different types of support to Ukraine’.
Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Berlin was ‘looking closely with our partners how we can support Ukraine in the future, more intensively and more coordinated because they have a right of self-defence.’
Ukrainian authorities urged people living in the Donbas to evacuate now, ahead of an impending Russian offensive.
‘Later, people will come under fire,’ Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said, ‘and we won’t be able to do anything to help them.’
Keir Giles, a senior consulting fellow at the Chatham House think tank, added that better weapons could help Ukraine push back the Russians.
He told the Times: ‘What has been supplied publicly in terms of weapons shipments are primarily weapons that would assist Ukraine in not losing the war and conducting defensive operations against Russian advances.
‘A new phase where Russia is on the back foot in multiple areas – which Ukraine needs to exploit — would suggest that the most relevant weaponry to be supplied might now be in different categories.’
It comes as Ukrainian authorities warned civilians in the country’s east to flee ‘now’ or ‘risk death’ as Russian forces regroup ahead of what is expected to be a fresh offensive in the Donbas region.
Stoltenberg, speaking ahead of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, said the international community should be ‘realistic’ about Moscow’s intentions and ‘realise that this may last for a long time’ as the war entered its 41st day.
‘We need also to be prepared for the long haul, both when it comes to supporting Ukraine, sustaining sanctions and strengthening our defences,’ he added.
NATO’s foreign ministers were meeting yesterday and today to discuss sending more arms to Ukraine after the Czech Republic became the first bloc member to send tanks and armoured infantry vehicles to Kyiv.
Members of the trans-Atlantic alliance had until yesterday given Ukraine only anti-tank and anti-craft missiles, small arms and protective equipment, but not offered heavy armour or fighter jets.
Yesterday’s delivery is understood to be a gift agreed on by NATO allies, raising fears the bloc could be dragged into the Russian war in Ukraine despite remaining on the sidelines for more than a month.
Stoltenberg also confirmed that some members of the alliance had sent heavy weaponry to Ukraine following reports the Czech Republic had supplied Soviet-era tanks to Kyiv.
‘Since the invasion allies have stepped up their support. I also expect that ministers when they meet today and tomorrow will discuss how they can further support Ukraine,’ he said, declining to give details.
‘I can say that the totality of what allies are doing is significant and that includes also some heavier systems combined with lighter systems.’
Several BVP-1 infantry fighting vehicles, howitzer artillery pieces and more than a dozen T-72 tanks were yesterday loaded on a train bound for Slovakia where they are expected to head on to Ukraine, footage run by public broadcaster Czech Television showed.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg today warned the war in Ukraine could last ‘months, even years’ as there is no sign Vladimir Putin has lost ‘his ambition to control the whole country’
Members of the trans-Atlantic alliance had until today given Ukraine only anti-tank and anti-craft missiles, small arms and protective equipment, but not offered heavy armour or fighter jets (pictured, destruction wreaked by Russian forces in Borodyanka)
A car is seen riddled with bullet holes on the street on April 5, 2022 in Bucha, Ukraine. Milley said the war in Ukraine could last for years
Chief Stoltenberg said the international community should be ‘realistic’ about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s (pictured) intentions and ‘realise that this may last for a long time’ as the war entered its 41st day
The Czech delivery has been funded by Prague as well as private donors who have contributed to a crowdsourced fundraising campaign to supply arms to Kyiv.
Ukraine burns through in a single day the same amount of weaponry it receives in a week, according to a senior Polish official, and Kyiv’s eastern neighbours are concerned with keeping up with demand.
Prague, and neighbouring Slovakia which has no tanks to give, are also considering helping repair and refit damaged Ukrainian military equipment. Germany will send several dozen infantry fighting vehicles to Kyiv and the UK has approved the delivery of 20 ambulances.
The United States has agreed to provide an additional $100 million in assistance to Ukraine, including Javelin anti-armour systems, the Pentagon said on Tuesday. US chipmaker Intel Corp (INTC.O) said it had suspended business operations in Russia, joining a growing list of companies leaving the country.
NATO has already supplied fuel, ammunition, helmets, protective gear and medical supplies to Ukraine, Stoltenberg said yesterday.
President Joe Biden has in recent weeks ordered more US troops to NATO’s eastern flank to reassure edgy allies and pledged to protect the bloc’s territory if Russian forces stray over more borders.
The Czech Republic has become the first NATO country to send tanks to Ukraine, providing T-72 and armoured infantry vehicles following President Zelensky’s plea for help (pictured, tanks loaded on a train bound for Ukraine on Tuesday)
Several BVP-1 infantry fighting vehicles (pictured) and more than a dozen T-72 tanks were yesterday loaded on a train bound for Ukraine, footage published by Czech Television showed
The Czech delivery of T-72s (pictured) has been funded by Prague as well as private donors who have contributed to a crowdsourced fundraising campaign to supply arms to Kyiv
Ukraine’s deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk today said in a message on Telegram that residents of the country’s eastern regions should evacuate ‘now’ or ‘risk death’ due to a feared Russian attack.
‘The governors of the Kharkiv, Lugansk and Donetsk regions are calling on the population to leave these territories and are doing everything to ensure that the evacuations take place in an organised manner,’ she said.
The call for urgent evacuations comes as Ukraine says Russian forces are regrouping to launch a fresh offensive in the country’s east after retreating from the Kyiv region.
Vereshchuk asked residents to cooperate with authorities, saying Kyiv will ‘not be able to help’ them after an attack.
‘It has to be done now because later people will be under fire and face the threat of death. There is nothing they will be able to do about it, nor will we be able to help,’ she said.
‘It is necessary to evacuate as long as this possibility exists. For now, it still exists,’ she added.
Russian forces last week pulled back from positions outside Kyiv and shifted the focus of their assault away from the capital, and Ukraine’s general staff said the northeastern city of Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest, also remained under attack.
Authorities in the eastern region of Luhansk on Wednesday urged residents to get out ‘while it is safe’ from an area that Ukraine also expects to be the target of a new offensive.
The Kremlin has declared that Ukraine’s Donbas is now a priority for the Russian army. NATO believes Moscow aims to take control of the whole Donbas region in eastern Ukraine with the aim of creating a corridor from Russia to annexed Crimea.
Russian artillery pounded the Ukrainian cities of Mariupol and Kharkiv today as the West prepared more sanctions against Moscow in response to civilian killings that Kyiv and its allies have called war crimes.
Zelensky accused the West of holding back on supplies because of ‘intimidation’ from Moscow and suggested Russia is in charge of NATO
Ukrainian servicemen inspect the wreckage of houses, cars and Russian military vehicles in the town of Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, yesterday
Field engineers of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine stand next to destroyed armoured vehicles on a street in the town of Bucha, on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, April 5, 2022