As Ukraine doubles down on its pleas for more advanced weaponry during what could be a pivotal week of diplomacy, pressure is mounting on Germany to allow the export of a main battle tank to Ukraine to better help Kyiv’s forces take the lead on the battlefield in eastern Ukraine. Defense against Russian air attacks.
Announcement from Britain The country will send 14 of its Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, a senior NATO official said on Tuesday, refusing the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, to allow other countries to export the indefensible German-made Panthers. The British were frank about their hope for this Encouraging other western countries To follow suit by supplying Ukraine with modern tanks.
At the World Economic Forum this week in Davos, Switzerland, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife Olena Zelenska, along with Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, are adding more pressure, pushing for better and better Western heavy weapons, including tanks and air defenses.
Ukraine and its allies Growing concern about it There is a short window to prepare for a potential Russian offensive in the spring. Russia has suffered a series of losses since September, when Ukraine regained control of large parts of its territory in the north and east. Russia responded by targeting civilians and infrastructure as fighting on the eastern front reached a stalemate.
The debate over German tanks is likely to be resolved at the end of the week, when a meeting of NATO defense ministers will follow one of the defense ministers of Ukraine’s backing countries at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Led by the US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd J. Austin III, both NATO and Assembly in Rammstein He is expected to discuss the provision of Western tanks to Ukraine.
Analysts say Mr. Schultz is likely to want explicit American support and involvement in any decision he makes to provide German-made tanks or to allow other countries, including Poland, to do so. Polls show that the Germans support Ukraine but are not eager to commit German tanks to fight Moscow.
Mr. Schultz was reluctant to “go it alone,” as he put it, or to separate completely from Moscow. His warning has been echoed somewhat in Washington, where President Biden shows no sign of agreeing to send the main American battle tank, the Abrams, to Ukraine. But the Biden administration has said it has not dissuaded any ally from sending in the tanks, and analysts say the White House is careful not to be seen as pressuring Berlin.
Finland’s foreign minister, Pekka Haavisto, said on Tuesday that Helsinki was ready to supply the Panthers but was still waiting for the German green light.
“Finland has some of these tanks. Ukraine needs them, but Germany has a major role in that,” he told Reuters in an interview in Davos.
In a speech late Monday, Mr Zelensky urged allies to “accelerate the decision-making process” and said the new British aid, including Challenger tanks and a range of other advanced military equipment, “was exactly what we needed”. He cited the attack on civilians in an apartment building on Saturday in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro, which killed at least 44 people, as a sign that Russia is “preparing for a new attempt to seize the initiative in the war.”
“All of this only underscores the importance of coordinating our efforts,” he said.
A small number of Western tanks wouldn’t change the shape of the conflict – Britain did So far committed to sending 14 —but several hundred could help Ukrainian forces drive the Russians out of a larger swath of eastern Ukraine.
If Ukraine is able to return the Russians to pre-invasion lines, some Western officials believe Mr. Zelensky would be more willing to talk about a peace settlement. So far, there is no indication of any Russian interest in serious negotiations.
Western military officials warn that it will take time to deliver the tanks and train the Ukrainians to use them and maintain them, arranging a steady route for spare parts.
Lara Jakes Contribute to the preparation of reports.
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