Ukraine MP hails UKs ’crucial’ role in securing tanks for Zelensky

Ukrainian MP praises UK’s support against Russia

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Britain’s role in driving forward the Western coalition offering military support following Vladimir Putin’s invasion has been “crucially important”, a Ukrainian MP has said. Inna Sovsun went on to describe how the UK was significantly more “clear-eyed” than many other European countries when it came to the threat posed by Russia, citing the 2018 Salisbury poisonings, and the murder of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006, as key factors in this assessment.

Ms Sovsun, a member of the Holos party, who served as Ukraine’s deputy Minister of Education and Science between 2014 and 2016, spoke to via video link from the country’s capital two days after US President Joe Biden confirmed it would be sending 31 Abrams tanks to help in the fight against Putin’s forces.

On the same day Germany’s Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, confirmed he two had sanctioned the provision of a company of 14 Leopard tanks in a huge boost to Ukraine’s war effort. Poland later outlined it, too, was sending tanks.

But Ms Sovsun, 38, said Britain, which earlier this month agreed to provide 14 Challenger 2 tanks as well, had also played a vital role.

She said: “Britain does not have the same military might as the US, no single country in the world does.

“But I do think that Britain particularly, under Boris Johnson, who seems quite genuine in his attempts to support Ukraine, is rather realistic about Russia.

“And I think that is why the UK, even though it is not the biggest supply of weapons to Ukraine, has at least for a while been the biggest driver of creating the coalition to support Ukraine and to provide weapons to Ukraine.

“I mean in terms of numbers it was not as significant as what the US can give.

But in terms of mobilising this coalition, it was crucially important.”

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Ms Sovsun added: “I do think that Britain is traditionally more clear-eyed about the threat posed by Putin than many other countries.”

Referring to the Novichok attack in Salisbury on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia five years ago, she continued: “The major argument of course, is that Britain does because of the Skripal poisoning and Litvinenko before that and so on and so forth.

“I do think that Britain has always been much more realistic in terms of understanding what Russia is.

“And I also think that there are other factors at play.

“Germany is super dependent on Russian gas.

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“France has had some historical connections with Russian culture and all of that stuff.”

Polling also indicated Putin was markedly less popular in the UK than in some other western countries, Ms Sovsun pointed out.

She explained: “With the UK I think in the UK, there is a very small portion of the population that likes Putin.”

Explaining why Ukraine needed the tanks during an announcement at the White House, Mr Biden said: “They need to be able to counter Russia’s evolving tactics and strategy on the battlefield in the very near term.

“They need to improve their ability to manoeuvre in open terrain.

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