Ukraine

Before crucial talks with dozens of Western allies at Ramstein air base in southern Germany, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a direct appeal to Germany to provide tanks.

Kyiv has been promised more weapons and armour from the United States and Europe to help repel an invasion by Russia.

The pressure on Berlin to provide its Leopard 2 tanks is rising.

In an interview with German public television, Mr. Zelensky demanded the surrender of any Leopard [tanks] in his possession.

“It’s unlikely that these leopards will enter Russia. We’re fighting for our lives here, “He made the statement in which he criticised the German government’s hesitance.

After the United States and other European countries offered more equipment to help Ukraine fend off any further Russian offensives, defence officials from more than 50 countries are scheduled to convene at Ramstein.

NATO military experts believe Moscow is contemplating a renewed spring attack with soldier numbers reinforced by a partial mobilisation since the end of September, almost 11 months after Russia commenced its war against Ukraine.

Recently, the United Kingdom also offered 14 of its own combat tanks, but this wasn’t enough for Kyiv.

Prior to pledging to provide their own Leopard tanks, countries like Poland and Finland must first receive approval from the manufacturer, Germany. On Friday, though, Poland’s deputy foreign minister Pawel Jablonski hinted that Warsaw would go ahead and do it anyhow.

“As for now, we don’t know. If there is significant pushback, I believe we would be willing to resort to such extreme measures. Still, we shouldn’t try to guess what will happen, “During an interview with a Polish radio station, he revealed his plans.

An advisor to Ukraine’s defence minister in Kyiv said that the country’s allies had a “clear decision” on Friday, the day before a conference.

“Tanks for Ukraine are tanks for freedom,” Yuriy Sak declared on the BBC’s Newsnight. He cautioned that other countries would “have to use them ourselves” against Moscow if these were not provided.

In October of 2022, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz addresses the nation while standing in front of a Leopard 2 tank.

German pressure is mounting on Chancellor Olaf Scholz to approve a shipment of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine (seen here in a previous year).
This week, Berlin said that sending the Leopard tank into service would depend on whether or whether the United States agreed to supply Abrams tanks, which it does not plan to do. However, Boris Pistorius, Germany’s new minister of defence, claimed he was unaware of any “such stipulation.”

Late Thursday, AFP reported that Germany had said its stance would be made clear in the next few hours.

Mr. Zelensky has been critical of what he sees as Berlin’s reluctance to commit vehicles, most recently on Thursday when he criticised claims that the United States and Germany would only commit vehicles if the other nation did so as well.

 

Mr. Zelensky said, “I don’t think this is the correct plan to go with,” and he urged the group to make “bold decisions” at the conference on Friday.

There is “genuine hesitation” in Washington, according to retired US Army general David Petraeus, to send Abrams tanks because they are difficult to maintain and have a jet turbine.

He urged the West to donate tanks “early enough so [Ukrainian] soldiers can actually train on them,” as quoted by the BBC.

Russian officials have expressed concern over what they call a “extremely dangerous” escalation of the conflict if Western nations were to supply tanks to Russia’s enemies.

Western nations promised Thursday to increase their supply of vehicles, artillery, and munitions for the Ukrainian military.

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, the United States has spent a total of $26.7 billion in aid. The United States has just committed a new package worth $2.5 billion (£2 billion).

The offer did not include tanks, but the Pentagon did pledge additional supplies like Bradleys, Strykers, and Avenger air defence systems.