Ukraine Solidarity Campaign

Cross-party motion asks for Warriors, Scimitars and Challenger tanks in increased numbers

A cross-party alliance of MPs, including Labour backbenchers and frontbench spokesmen from the SNP have today tabled an Early Day Motion to Parliament calling for a significant increase in UK heavy weapons donations to Ukraine.

The call has been backed by trade unions in Ukraine, and by Labour’s sister party in Ukraine, the Social Democratic Platform.

EDM 808, initially signed by Clive Lewis MP (Labour – Norwich), Stewart Hosie MP (SNP – Dundee East), and Dawn Butler MP (Labour – Brent Central) calls on Rishi Sunak to donate all 79 surplus Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, along with 179 Scimitar reconnaissance vehicles and as many as possible of the Warrior fighting vehicles that are due to be replaced this year.

That this House notes that 24 February marks the first anniversary of Russia launching an all-out invasion of Ukraine; applauds the Ukrainian people’s courageous resistance; welcomes the gifting of a squadron of Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine and the transfer of Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine; recognises that increased assistance must be provided to help Ukraine successfully conclude the war, free their entire country, and secure a just peace; condemns the fact that 1,105 vehicles were disposed of by the MOD via sale/auction in 2022 for financial gain; calls for all such equipment to be offered to Ukraine; notes that the Challenger 3 programme will upgrade at least 148 of the existing Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks, and calls for the urgent gifting of 79 CR2 tanks to Ukraine; notes that the 170 CVR(T) Scimitar vehicles go out of service this year, and calls for their gifting to Ukraine; notes with the arrival of 623 Boxer vehicles that the Warrior Vehicle is being retired, and calls for all Warriors to be gifted to Ukraine; notes that only four Typhoon Tranche 1 aircraft will be retained until 2027, and calls for the gifting of the remaining Typhoon Tranche 1 aircraft to Ukraine; calls for those of the current fleet of 60 Chinooks due for retirement be gifted to Ukraine; and calls on the Secretary of State for Defence to commit to the above aid being provided urgently with necessary training and ammunition, and for delivery no later than Spring 2023.

The government has already gifted 14 Challenger 2s to Ukraine but, the motion notes, the MoD has also sold more than a thousand vehicles since the Russian invasion began, none of which went to Ukraine.

The motion is prompted by a series of parliamentary questions submitted by Clive Lewis MP, Labour’s former shadow defence secretary, which revealed the extent of government surplus stock sales at a time when Ukraine is crying out for direct military aid.

Mr Lewis, (above) who formerly served in the British Army in Afghanistan, said:

“A large number of Challenger tanks, Scimitar and Warrior vehicles, Typhoon fighter aircraft and Chinook helicopters are surplus and can be given to Ukraine.  This could make a major difference in helping Ukraine win more quickly, with less suffering for the Ukrainian people. This equipment must be used for just purposes to help Ukraine, not sold off to reactionary states or auctioned to private arms dealers to make profits.”

Mykhailo Volynets, chair of the KVPU (Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine) said:

“We are grateful to the UK for the humanitarian, economic and military aid provided to Ukraine, at a time when Ukrainians are courageously fighting against the Russian occupation and paying a high price for a free and democratic future of Ukraine.  At least  80 members of the Independent Union of Mineworkers of Ukraine were killed in action or died from severe wounds since the start of the full-scale invasion. We urge you to continue and strengthen humanitarian, economic and military assistance to Ukraine. This saves people’s lives and brings peace in Ukraine closer. Stand with Ukraine and help the Ukrainian people to win and stop this war”

Bohdan Ferens, leader of Social Democratic Platform Ukraine, said:

“We call on British parliamentarians to appeal to the government about the need to provide Ukraine with a wider range of modern weapons, including tanks, anti-missile defences, and artillery. Timely decisions can strengthen not only the resistance to barbaric  Russian aggression, but also save many lives in Ukraine.”

The EDM was drawn up on the initiative of Ukraine Solidarity Campaign, which has the support of major British trade unions, including the GMB, PCS, ASLEF and the NUM.

For further information contact Christopher Ford .