Conflicts & War

Ukraine frustrated with German tank indecision but still hopeful

Lviv, Ukraine, Jan 21 (EFE).- As Ukraine prepares to repel a potential Russian offensive and launch its own to retake the occupied territories in the east, the appreciation of major military aid packages from its foreign partners is tinged with frustration over Germany’s hesitancy in deploying Leopard 2 tanks to the country.

As both sides mobilize resources for large-scale offensives, the frontline has remained relatively stable in recent weeks, despite marginal gains by Ukrainian forces near Kreminna in the Luhansk oblast and Russian advances in Soledar near Bakhmut.

Yevgen, an officer of the National Guard of Ukraine, says the pressure from Russia’s troops near Bakhmut has been relentless and that his unit urgently needs heavy weapons and other military equipment.

“Our motivation is very high but we need tanks, we need more artillery, more multiple rocket launchers, to prevent the enemy from getting so close to us and to save the lives of our exhausted soldiers”, he told Efe during a rare break in fighting.

The disappointment with the lack of decision over tanks is largely directed at Germany, which needs to give other countries that own German-produced Leopard 2 tanks permission to deliver them to the Ukrainian army, something it has yet to do.

Andreas Umland, a German political expert based in Ukraine, points out that “while Germany has recently provided significant help to Ukraine, Berlin has also significant historical responsibility vis-a-vis Kyiv”.

He points out that it was Ukraine that was primarily devastated by German troops in 1941-1944 during WWII, while Berlin also indirectly helped Moscow devastate Ukraine by continuing its long-lasting partnerships with Putin’s regime after the annexation of Crimea and the start of the war in the Donbas in 2014.

Ukraine’s official position is softer. The country’s minister of defense Oleksiy Reznikov revealed in an interview with “Voice of America” that an agreement was reached with unidentified countries for Ukrainian crews to start training with Leopard 2 tanks.

He said he remained optimistic and hoped that Germany would come to a decision on the transfer of tanks “in a calm mode, after conducting its own internal consultations”.

Volodymyr Dubovyk, professor of international relations at Odesa Mechnikov National University, underlines that tanks are only some of the weapons that Ukraine needs and the trend of increasing military aid flowing into Ukraine is positive.

“Other types of weapons, heavy weapons in particular, which are now being provided, are a very serious contribution to Ukraine’s military capacity”, he told Efe.

A string of major military aid packages announced in the last few days include an additional $2.5 billion from the US and $1 billion from Germany, as well as 200 armored vehicles from Canada. Nine European countries, meanwhile, have jointly pledged to provide tanks and other heavy weapons to enable Ukraine’s victory on the battlefield in 2023.

Dubovyk believes that the discussion around whether to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine is going to continue and points out that earlier discussion about other weapons followed the same trajectory.

“First they say they are not likely to provide a particular weapon but eventually these ‘red lines’ shift,” he explained. EFE


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