British Lawmaker Slams UK Over Delays in Weapons for Ukraine


Tony Leliw

February 9, 2023

The British Labour Party’s Clive Lewis has a list of tanks, jets, helicopters, and weapons that he says could be sent to Kyiv but is instead being sold off for financial gain.

British member of parliament (MP) Clive Lewis, of the Labour Party, nailed his credentials to a coalition of British opposition MPs who have condemned the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for selling off old military equipment for financial gain instead of gifting it to Ukraine.

The MP joined the clamor in parliament, to claim that 1,105 vehicles were disposed of by the MoD by sale and auction in 2022, and made calls for all such equipment to be offered instead to Ukraine’s war effort.

Leading the charge, Lewis, a former British soldier who served in Afghanistan, said: “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.”

Labour, Scottish Nationalists and Democratic Unionist Party MPs tabled their critical comments in a motion for debate, known as an Early Day Motion, on Jan. 30, but also praised the government for giving Ukraine a squadron of Challenger 2 tanks, asking for more urgent assistance.

With a Russian offensive looming, Lewis 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.”

The group of MPs used the platform to highlight their wish list of weaponry, which is currently being retired or going out of service. These include: 79 CR2 tanks; 170 CVR(T) Scimitar vehicles; 280 Warriors; a Typhoon Tranche 1 aircraft; and a fleet of 60 Chinooks.

Unlike some on the left of the Labour Party, Lewis did not declare himself a pacifist when Russia launched its full-scale war on Ukraine last February. Within two days of the invasion he was at a Ukraine Solidarity Demonstration, outside Downing Street, telling protestors that warm words would not be enough to defend Ukraine.

Speaking to Kyiv Post after the Early Day Motion, Lewis said: “As we approach the anniversary of Russia’s all-out invasion we are witnessing yet again the massing of Russian forces for a new assault on Ukraine.

“It is a tragedy not only because Ukrainians will be forced to mount yet further courageous and costly resistance, but also because this is an avoidable situation.

“It is avoidable because delays in providing Ukrainians with weapons necessary to liberate their country has limited Ukraine’s ability to take full advantage of the defeats inflicted on the Russian forces.”

News of his Early Day Motion calling for more arms has already reached Ukraine, and other voices are responding to the campaign.

Bohdan Ferens, leader of Social Democratic Platform of 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 defenses, and artillery. Timely decisions can strengthen not only the resistance to barbaric Russian aggression, but also save many lives in Ukraine.”

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

The Early Day Motion was drawn up on the initiative of Ukraine Solidarity Campaign, which has the support of major British trade unions.