Despite German reluctance, Ukraine expresses optimism about receiving tanks
While Germany was frustrated at its apparent dragging its feet in sending advanced Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine on Saturday, Ukrainian officials said they believed it would only be a matter of time before sophisticated weapons arrived.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said he was “optimistic” that Germany would decide to allow Leopard transfers and that his country’s troops would start training on the tanks in the meantime. Poland, although Poland did not immediately confirm this.
“Countries that already have Leopard tanks can start training missions for our tank crews,” he told Voice of America’s Ukrainian service on Friday. “We’ll start with that, and we’ll go from there.”
Many Western defense officials meeting in Germany on Friday hoped to reach an agreement on sending German-made tanks, which are stockpiled by many European countries and which Ukraine considers crucial to its war effort. But the meeting ended without a decision from Germany, which so far has resisted sending its own leopards to Ukraine or granting other countries with them permission to export them. .
Germany also lobbied for the United States to send some of its own tanks, but on Saturday the criticism fell largely on Berlin.
Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said “indecision kills our people more”.
“You will help Ukraine with the necessary weapons anyway and realize that there is no other option to end the war,” he added. wrote on Twitter, adding: “Every day of delay is the death of Ukrainians. Think faster.
Poland’s Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation that it would host Ukrainian troop training, but Polish officials urged Germany to clear the way for the Leopards. The Polish government has said it is ready to send some of its own, although it legally needs Germany to approve such a move.
Ukraine’s calls for tanks and more weapons from the West have taken on greater urgency ahead of an expected Russian offensive in the spring. And Russia’s recent claims that the small towns of Soledar and Klishchiivka have been captured – part of a wider campaign to seize the town of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine – have added to the growing pressure.
With the war as a whole “at an impasse”, the British Ministry of Defense said saturdayhe warned that there was “a realistic possibility of local Russian advances around Bakhmut”.
Mr. Zelensky, who appealed in a video address to defense officials meeting in Germany on Friday to make a decision on the tanks, stressed that time is running out.
“We will still have to fight for the supply of modern tanks, but every day we make it more obvious that there is no alternative to decision-making on tanks,” he said in his speech overnight, adding, “The only thing worth highlighting is the time, the delivery time. Every deal needs to be implemented as soon as possible.
Several of Ukraine’s allies also called for swift action on Saturday while continuing to pressure Germany. In a joint statement, the foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania urged Germany to “deliver Leopard tanks to Ukraine now”.
“This is necessary to stop Russian aggression, help Ukraine and quickly restore peace in Europe,” they said. in statements posted on Twitter. “Germany, as Europe’s leading power, has a special responsibility in this regard.”
Germany has been reluctant to send some of its Leopard 2 tanks without Washington committing to send at least a token number of its M1 Abrams tanks. Washington opposed sending Abrams tanks, saying they use jet fuel and are difficult to maintain. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said Friday he had not announced whether that position would change.
South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who has spoken out on sending more guns to Ukraine and was in Kyiv on Friday, said he was “tired of the shit show surrounding who is going to send tanks and when are they going to send them.
“To the Germans: Send tanks to Ukraine because they need them. It is in your own national interest that Putin loses in Ukraine,” he said. wrote on Twitter Friday evening. “To the Biden administration: send American tanks for others to follow our example.”
When asked by a reporter on Friday if he supported Poland’s call to send Leopards, President Biden was brief. “Ukraine will receive all the help it needs”, he said.
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