BRITAIN will hand Poland tanks so they can gift their Soviet-era ones to Ukraine, Boris Johnson confirmed last night in a dramatic hike in support for fighting Putin.
The surprise announcement from the PM in India came as he warned Putin could still win the war and the brutal conflict is likely to run into at least next year.
But as the Russian army is driven back, British diplomats will start returning to Kyiv from next week after fleeing Russia’s brutal assault in February.
Britain and America are also working intensely on a new “security guarantee” for President Zelensky which will mean that while Ukraine does not join NATO – to Putin’s fury – their safety will be underwritten by global allies.
The PM said it will “back them up” with military training, intelligence sharing and more weapons, in a bid to make Kyiv “impregnable” to another Russian invasion.
At it is understood Poland are negotiating a transfer of Challenger 2 tanks from the Ministry of Defence, so they can hand soviet-era T72s to the Ukrainian army who already know how to drive them.
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Other countries will be asked to chip in with support, with the UK looking at handing other pieces of military kit to those that help Ukraine with weapons they already know how to use.
A government source said: “This is about speed, there isn’t time to train them on new kit so its about getting heavy arms they already know how to use as a quickly as possible.”
Mr Johnson confirmed: “We are looking more at what we can do to backfill in countries such as Poland, who may want to send heavier weaponry to help defend the Ukrainians.
The PM told a press conference in New Delhi: “We are looking at sending tanks to Poland to help them as they send some of their T72s to Ukraine.”
He added: “We’ve got to look at what more we can do militarily, we’ve got to keep intensifying the economic sanctions – we want to make sure there is wave after wave of intensifying pressure on Putin.”
But he said there was a “realistic possibility” that Russia could win its war in Ukraine by the end of next year, as western intelligences has warned.
“The only option Putin now has, really, is to continue to try to use his appalling, grinding approach driven by artillery, trying to grind the Ukrainians down,” he said.
“The situation is unpredictable at this stage, but we’ve also seen the incredible heroism of the Ukrainian people.”
“No matter what military superiority Vladimir Putin may be able to bring to bear in the next few months – I agree, it may be a long period – he will not be able to conquer the spirit of the Ukrainian people. That is an observable fact.
And he confirmed: “The extraordinary fortitude and success of Ukrainian people means I can announce we will next week reopen our embassy”.