British Challenger tanks seen near the Ukraine front line in Zaporizhzhya

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meet Ukrainian troops being trained to command Challenger 2 tanks at a military facility in Lulworth, Dorset, England, Wednesday Feb. 8, 2023. (Andrew Matthews/Pool via AP)
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

British Challenger-2 tanks have supposedly been spotted in the Zaporizhzhya region in Ukraine, near the front line, according to unconfirmed reports.

Although the Ukrainians received the tanks from the U.K. in mid-March, and training was completed by the end of March, there is no evidence that they have been used in combat. However, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov tested the Ukrainian-flagged armored vehicles in the spring and promised that they would soon begin their combat mission.

Ukraine has received a total of 14 Challenger-2s from the British, together with their equipment, ammunition, and the controversial depleted uranium armor-piercing projectiles. However advanced the tank is, it is clearly not a game-changing in respect to the wider conflict with such numbers, but the tanks’ appearance near the front could be a sign that the majority of other Western armor has already been deployed.

Experts had previously thought that the Challenger 2 would be deployed once enough of the other Western tanks, such as the German Leopard 2, had arrived.

In April, it seemed that the promised deliveries of weapons were slow in coming. The appearance of the British armored vehicles therefore suggests that the problem has since been rectified and the weapons are in Ukraine. This is also the conclusion of Anton Bendarjevsky, the technical director of the Hungarian think-tank Oeconomus Economic Research Foundation, who believes the vast majority of the promised Western weapons systems have already arrived in Ukraine.

While in the early stages of the Ukrainian counter-offensive in early summer, it may have seemed that the Ukrainians were losing Western weapons one by one. However, since then, with a few exceptions, they do not appear to have suffered any major losses.

The presence of British tanks on the front line could be an indication that the Ukrainians are planning further offensives, and are bringing their state-of-the-art technology to bear.

The direction of a large-scale Ukrainian counter-attack is also likely to be on the southern front, in the area of Zaporizhzhya.

Russian presidential spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, promised earlier this year that the Challenger-2 tanks would “burn” and that no matter how many weapons the West sends to Ukraine, they would not win the war. This prophecy could soon be tested in reality on the front line.

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