Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that the West had “no alternative” but to provide Ukraine with heavy tanks.
Expectations are mounting ahead of a key US-led meeting to boost military aid to Ukraine that the allies will agree to send German-made Leopard tanks amid mounting pressure from European nations. rice field.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stressed the urgency of the situation, where Ukraine is expected to launch a counteroffensive against Russia in the coming weeks.
“There’s a window of opportunity here between now and spring … whenever they launch an operation, it’s their counterattack,” Austin said.
However, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius told reporters on the sidelines of the event at Ramstein Air Base in Germany:
He also denied the accusation that only Germany was interfering with the transport of tanks. “The impression that there is a unified coalition and that Germany is in the way is wrong,” he said.
Kyiv wants the mighty Leopard tanks to mount an offensive against Russian forces, but the Kremlin warns that their deployment by the West would be a “very dangerous” escalation.
Germany’s reluctance to supply tanks provoked heavy criticism of Berlin from other countries such as Finland and Poland. These countries have their own stocks of leopards, but they need German approval to send them.
– “Reliable ally” –
But Austin, the organizer of the conference, defended Germany against criticism that Germany had not done enough to help Kyiv.
“We can do more,” Mr Austin said, stressing that Berlin is a “trusted ally”.
In a video address to a conference that brought together delegates from 50 countries on Friday, Zelensky renewed his plea for Western allies to “speed up” arms deliveries to Ukraine.
Partners “need to open up key supplies to stop evil, instead of negotiating for varying numbers of tanks,” he said.
He returned to the topic later on Friday.
“Yes, we still have to fight for the supply of modern tanks, but every day it becomes clear that we do not have the option of having to make decisions about tanks,” he said.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that while the United States was not going to pressure Germany, Washington supported sending tanks to Ukraine.
German Leopards, he argued, are a better fit than the complex American-made Abrams.
“I am convinced that within Ukraine we need armored capabilities, including tanks, and the Leopard tank is a great system,” he added.
Kirby also announced Friday that the United States has designated Russia’s Wagner Group an “international criminal organization.”
He showed US intelligence photos of North Korea supplying Wagner with weapons for the Ukraine operation, and said the private army had become a formal rival to the Russian military.
– ‘very hard’ –
Prior to the Rammstein Conference, Western allies were offering to ship new weapons one after another.
The Pentagon provided the Ukrainian military with $2.5 billion worth of supplies, including Bradley combat vehicles, armored personnel carriers, air defense systems, and tens of thousands of rockets and artillery shells.
However, it did not include the ATA long-range missiles that Ukraine wanted.
Western partners fear Kyiv may use its weapons to attack deep within Russian territory or the Crimea peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014.
The Dutch Defense Ministry said on Friday that the country would help Ukraine equip the country with the Patriot air defense system to protect it from drone and missile attacks.
It is also considering the possibility of sending heavy tanks to Kyiv.
Ahead of Friday’s Ramstein talks, the Kremlin accused the West of harboring a “dramatic delusion” that Ukraine could win on the battlefield, adding that the conflict was “developing in an upward spiral.” rice field.
The conference presented a solemn assessment of progress on the front lines.
Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said:
– “We will be homeless” –
Almost a year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the most intense fighting in recent months has centered on the eastern Donetsk region.
In besieged Bahmut, a couple standing across from an apartment building helplessly watched as their house burned as a shell hit nearby and set it ablaze.
“Look, look, that’s my apartment. It’s the only apartment I have,” said 70-year-old Olga Tomakh through tears.
In Soledar, about 15 kilometers from Bakhmut, the first UN humanitarian convoy arrived in a town largely reduced to rubble.
Russia claims to have captured Soledar, while Ukraine claims fighting is ongoing in which both sides have suffered heavy losses.
https://www.expatica.com/nl/general/allies-fail-to-agree-on-heavy-tanks-sought-by-ukraine-499650/ Allies failed to reach agreement on heavy tanks sought by Ukraine