Ukrainian soldiers have taken to shouting “God save the Queen” when firing anti-tank weapons provided by the UK that have proven pivotal in the defence of their country.
Thousands of Anglo-Swedish next-generation light anti-tank weapons (NLAWs) have “flowed into the country” since the beginning of the year, The Telegraph reported, “playing a decisive role in crippling the Russian invasion”.
NLAWs have had such an impact that “the weapons have achieved cult status” among Ukraine’s defenders, the paper added, with “images depicting saints cradling the missile launchers” being “shared widely on social media” by civilians and troops.
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‘Give us more toys like these’
Around 2,000 NLAWs were “provided by the British before the war in January”, Insider reported, and have been widely deployed during “counter-attacks and ambushes in the suburbs of Kyiv on Russian armoured columns”.
The British Army also “sent trainers to prepare the Ukrainians for their use”, the news site said, with troops on the frontline “singing the weapons’ praises”.
One fighter, standing next to a destroyed Russian vehicle, told The Telegraph: “We hit it thanks to the gifts from Her Majesty the Queen. Give us more toys like these and there will be more destroyed tanks.”
A second soldier added that the “beautiful” NLAW in his hands had destroyed many Russian tanks and vehicles, saying: “I want to say a big thank you to our British comrades helping us” as he held the empty launcher above his head.
James Dwyer, an expert in ballistic missile defence at the University of Tasmania, said that providing Ukraine with anti-tank weapons has “allowed the army to bog down and stall the Russian advance, at a significant cost to Russia”.
Writing on The Conversation, he said that “the greatest advantage of anti-tank missiles is their range and ease of use”. NLAWs are “relatively lightweight”, can be deployed by one soldier and “require (relatively) minimal training to handle”.
Dwyer added: “Reports indicate Russians have suffered heavy losses against anti-tank weaponry, to the point where we’ve seen images and videos online showing Russian soldiers putting up makeshift mesh screens and cages over their tanks.”
These screens “will do little to minimise the impact from a missile, but they do demonstrate that Russian soldiers are fearful of the threat the missiles present”.
The weapons were developed by the Swedish Saab group, and built in Belfast for the British Army. They cost around £20,000 each to produce and “weigh half as much as their much-vaunted American cousins, the Javelins”, The Telegraph reported.
“The weapons are designed to be ultra versatile,” the paper added, and can be used in “enclosed spaces in urban environments”, as well as being “ideal for rural guerrilla warfare due to their mobility.
“The war in Ukraine is testing that theory, with unprecedented footage emerging from the field of just how deadly and effective the weapons are.”
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Lieutenant Colonel Ihor Bezogluk said that the weapons had been nothing short of a “game changer” in Ukraine’s defence against Russia’s far larger and better equipped military force.
“Thank you to Great Britain for giving us the NLAWs. Anything that can help us to defend our country is very well-received,” Bezogluk said. “These missiles have changed the war for us.
“It means we can fight the Russians and it doesn’t matter how many of them there are now that we have a way of stopping their armour. The Russians cannot scare us with numbers anymore.”
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