(Update 1, changes headline, lead, adds details of US-Germany defense leaders meeting)
Berlin, Jan 19 (EFE).- Germany’s new defense minister, Boris Pistorius, pledged his country’s support to Ukraine at a meeting Thursday with his US counterpart Lloyd Austin, but did not mention whether Berlin would be deploying Leopard 2 battle tanks to Kyiv.
Pistorius, who was sworn in on Thursday morning, made the remarks ahead of a meeting on Friday of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting at Ramstein Air Base in western Germany, where defense ministers from Nato countries and their allies are expected to announce new military support for Ukraine.
“Together with our partners, we will continue to support Ukraine in its struggle for freedom and territorial independence and sovereignty,” Pistorius said at the meeting with Austin.
Pistorius did not specify the nature of the aid or support, with Germany facing pressure from western allies to send Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine or approve the transfer of the tanks from other countries.
The minister said that concrete details of Germany’s military commitments to Ukraine would be made public on Friday after the meeting in Ramstein.
The US, meanwhile, said it remained focused on “making sure that Ukraine has what it needs to deal with what is right in front of it,” a senior defense official said as Austin landed in Berlin.
Washington believes Russia is plotting a Spring offensive in Ukraine, with allies keen to ensure Kyiv has what it needs to defend itself, according to a statement by the US department of defense.
“What’s really important at this point is providing Ukraine with armor capabilities, and in particular, maneuver armor capabilities,” the official added.
During the meeting, Austin called Germany a “true friend” and said the US would continue to support the people of Ukraine.
The US defense chief added that he would be discussing some of the issues which will be addressed at Friday’s Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting as well as other key Nato issues and other items regarding US-Germany bilateral relations.
Pistorius met Austin on the day he was sworn in as Germany’s new defense minister after replacing Christine Lambrecht, who was criticized for her management of the Ukraine war and stepped down on Monday after a series of blunders.
Pistorius’ first meeting in his new role was with his French counterpart Sébastien Lecornu, with both leaders discussing cooperation on security policy. EFE