BERLIN – With the clock ticking away from the expected announcement of whether more Western tanks will be sent to Ukraine, negotiators from Kyiv’s allies were still trying to reach a consensus.
Despite mounting pressure from several European allies, it was not clear whether Berlin would send some of its Leopard 2 tanks into Ukraine or allow other European countries to send their own supplies of German-made vehicles into combat.
Boris Pistorius, Germany’s new defense minister, said during a break in negotiations at Ramstein Air Base in the afternoon that there was still no agreement on fielding the Leopard II main battle tank. He said he had ordered a review of all available Leopard battle tanks in Germany. To be ready if a decision is made to send the country’s own tanks to Ukraine.
He said such a decision could take between a day and weeks to reach, but Germany wanted it to be ready. “Then, we will be able to act immediately and provide support within a very short period of time,” he said.
“None of us can say today when and what the decision will be,” said Pistorius. He also said that “the impression that appears from time to time that there is a unified coalition and that Germany is standing in the way is wrong.”
There were suggestions that Berlin It does not want to send any of its own Panthers unless the US also agrees to send its own M1 Abrams tanks, which the Biden administration has been reluctant to do. But Mr. Pistorius said in an interview Thursday night that he was “not aware of any such association”.
Even if Germany does not send its own Panthers, there is another path: As the maker of the tank, Germany could authorize the 12 other European countries that use them to donate some to Kyiv. They can then be quickly dispatched, although Ukrainian crews will have to be trained in their use. Security analysts have argued about the Panthers being transported to Ukraine via Europe, which would ease the burden on individual countries.
In the run-up to the meeting, the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group, Allies of Kyiv, gathered She was promised large supplies of weapons to the front line. Along with the Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Oleksiy Reznikov, and Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd J. it takes.”
Russia is regrouping, recruiting and trying to re-equip. “This is not a moment to slow down — it’s time to dig deeper,” said Austin. He added, “The Ukrainian people are watching us, the Kremlin is watching us, and history is watching us.”
The meeting, which includes officials from up to 50 countries, is focused on how to provide weapons to Ukraine to try to expel Russian forces from occupied territories in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine has ordered both the US-made Abrams tank and the German Leopard 2 tank, of which 2,000 are available throughout Europe. The Leopard is widely seen as the best option, given it is already on the continent and many European allies have spare parts and the ability to train Ukrainian fighters on the tank.
Speaking via livestream at the opening of the Rammstein event, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, addressed the tensions in the room by emphasizing his appeal to the tanks. His gratitude for past arms supplies, he said, could not alter the speed at which the war was going, and required new equipment.
Mr. Zelensky also made it clear that the call for tanks was the beginning of a push for more advanced weaponry — a stance that means such a tough debate between Kyiv’s NATO allies will likely continue.
On Friday, the Kremlin downplayed the potential impact of Western battle tanks in Ukraine. In his daily phone call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry S. Peskov What Russia’s position has been from the beginning of its invasion: Western arms supplies will only deepen the suffering of the Ukrainians before Russia’s inevitable victory.
“We have repeatedly said that these deliveries will not be able to fundamentally change anything,” Mr. Peskov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.
Anton Troyanovsky Contribute to the preparation of reports.
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