Berlin Sets Condition For U.S. On Exports of German Tanks to Ukraine

Germany will send German-made tanks to Ukraine so long as the United States agrees to do likewise, a government source in Berlin has told Reuters, as NATO partners remained out of step over how best to arm Ukraine in its war against Russia.

Ukraine has pleaded for modern Western weapons, especially heavy battle tanks, so it can regain momentum following some battlefield successes in the second half of 2022 against Russia nforces that invaded last February.

Berlin has veto power over any decision to export its Leopard tanks, fielded by NATO-allied armies across Europe and seen by defence experts as the most suitable for Ukraine.

Several times in recent days, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has stressed, behind closed doors, the condition that US tanks should also be sent to Ukraine, the German government source said on condition of anonymity.

When asked about Germany’s stance, US President Joe Biden’s spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said: “The president believes that each country should make their own sovereign decisions on what steps of security assistance and what kinds of equipment they are able to provide Ukraine.”

Yesterday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States would provide $125 million to Ukraine to support its energy and electric grids following targeted attacks on those utilities by Russian forces.

NATO allies have sought to avoid the risk of appearing to confront Russia directly and have refrained from sending the irmost potent weapons to Ukraine.

US officials said Mr Biden’s administration is next expected to approve Stryker armoured vehicles for Ukraine produced in Canada for the US Army but is not poised to send US tanks.

The Pentagon is still not prepared to meet Kyiv’s request for M1 Abrams tanks, said Colin Kahl, the Pentagon’s top policy adviser who had just returned from a trip to Ukraine.


“I just don’t think we’re there yet,” Mr Kahl said. “The Abrams tank is a very complicated piece of equipment. It’s expensive. It’s hard to train on. It has a jet engine.”

His remarks came ahead of tomorrow’s gathering of top defence officials from dozens of countries at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany to coordinate military aid for Kyiv.

Germany’s new Defence Minister Boris Pistorius will host US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin today.

Attention at tomorrow’s meeting will be focused on Germany, which has said Western tanks should only be supplied to Ukraine if there is an agreement among Kyiv’s main allies.

Britain has raised the pressure on Berlin this month by becoming the first Western country to send tanks to Ukraine, pledging a squadron of its Challengers. Poland and Finland have said they will send Leopard tanks if Germany approves them.

In a speech by video link to the Davos forum on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Western allies to supply his country before Russia mounts its next missile and armoured ground attacks.

“The supplying of Ukraine with air defence systems must outpace Russia’s next missile attacks,” Mr Zelensky said.

“Thesupplies of Western tanks must outpace another invasion ofRussian tanks.”

Germany’s Leopard 2 is regarded as one of the West’s best tanks. It weighs more than 60 tons, has a 120mm smoothbore gun and can hit targets at a distance of up to five kilometres.

Ukraine, which has relied primarily on Soviet-era T-72 tank variants, says the new tanks would give its troops the mobile firepower to drive out Russian troops in decisive battles.

EU chief in Kyiv for talks

European Council President Charles Michel said he has arrived in Kyiv to discuss with President Volodymyr Zelensky what “concrete measures” Europe can take to support Ukraine.

Mr Michel also said he would “discuss with president Zelensky and his team what are the concrete measures we can develop in order to make sure they are stronger and more powerful”.

He hailed the Ukrainians “fighting for their land, they are fighting for their future and the future of their children”.

“But we all know that they are also fighting for our common European values and principles, and also for the promise of the European Union peace and prosperity,” he said. “They need and they deserve our support.”

Tough frontline situation

The fighting has been concentrated in the south and east of Ukraine, after Russia’s initial assault from the north aimed attacking Kyiv was thwarted during the first months of an invasion that Russian President Vladimir Putin called a “special military operation”.

“The situation on the frontline remains tough, with Donbas being the epicentre of the most fierce and principled battles,” Mr Zelensky said in a video address last night.

“We are seeing agradual increase in the number of bombardments and attempts to conduct offensive actions by the invaders.”

Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said in a YouTube video that Ukrainian army units remained in Soledar, with heavy fighting in western districts despite Russian claims for more than a week that it now controlled the town.

Donbas, comprised of Luhansk and Donetsk, is the industrial heartland of Ukraine’s east. Russian forces have been pressing for months for control of the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk but with limited success, and have shifted their attention to the smaller nearby town of Soledar in recent weeks.





Arab Observer

Related Articles

Back to top button