Conflicts & War

Germany hints at tank delivery as Zelenskyy urges more allied support

Berlin, Jan 20 (EFE).- Germany has ordered a “review” of the stocks and availability of its Leopard tanks, a first step towards the potential delivery of armored vehicles that Ukraine has repeatedly called for to defend itself against Russia’s invasion.

“The priority is the anti-aircraft defense of Ukraine and that is what we are concentrating on”, German defense minister Boris Pistorius said from the US base in Ramstein, Germany, at a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group attended by representatives of 50 countries.

Pointing out that he has only been in office for 24 hours after taking over from Christine Lambrecht — who resigned this week under pressure because of her response to the war and Germany’s support for Ukraine — Pistorius said he would “weigh” all the aspects before making a decision.

He denied reports that several allied nations have been putting pressure on Berlin to deploy the Leopard 2, German-made tanks that require Germany’s authorization to be supplied to a third party.

“Any decision on the Leopard will be taken in consensus with the allies,” Pistorius said, adding that Germany would continue supporting Ukraine “for as long as necessary.”

Since World War II, Germany has maintained an anti-militarist foreign policy and has sought to avoid unilaterally sending soldiers or military hardware to conflict zones, preferring instead to act in lockstep with its partners and allies.

The delivery of the Leopard has dominated the meeting in Ramstein, which opened with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, insisting via video link that his country needs tanks, as anti-aircraft systems are not enough to defend itself against Russia’s attacks.

“We greatly appreciate all support received so far and your anti-aircraft defense systems, but we need artillery and tanks,” the Ukrainian leader said.

US defense secretary Lloyd Austin, who was chairing the meeting, said his country “remains committed to leading” the allied coordinated effort to support Ukraine.

“We’re going to continue to dig deep, and based on the progress we made today, I’m confident that Ukraine’s partners from around the globe are determined to meet this moment,” he said.

On Friday morning, the US announced an additional $2.5 billion package of equipment and ammunition would be allocated for Ukraine’s defense, bringing Washington’s total contribution since the invasion began in February 2022 to $26.7 billion.

“Our new package provides even more air defense capabilities to help Ukraine defend its cities and its skies,” Lloyd said, according to a statement from the Department of Defense.

“The United States remains determined to lead — and to do our part to help Ukraine defend itself,” he added.

Moscow has warned the deployment of Western tanks would lead to “unambiguously negative” results.

“All these tanks will require both maintenance and repairs, and so on, so (their delivery) will add to Ukraine’s problems, but will not change anything with regard to the Russian side achieving its goals,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. EFE


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