- Germany denies entering the war against Russia
- Ukraine says tanks will become the ‘fist’ of democracy
- Russian envoy says transporting tanks would be ‘flat provocation’
- Russian-backed leader says Wagner forces advance Bahmut
BERLIN/KIEV (Reuters) – Germany on Monday cleared the way for Europe to send a large number of tanks to Ukraine, and the United States was ready to make a similar announcement. Moscow denounced it as an escalation.
Kyiv has been calling for months for Western main battle tanks that would give its army greater firepower, protection and maneuverability as it could break through Russian front lines and retake occupied territories to the east and south.
Germany, a former Western resistance force, has sent its first company of 14 Leopard 2 tanks from its stocks and said it would also approve shipments from other European countries.
The ultimate goal is to supply Ukraine with two battalions of Leopards, usually consisting of three or four squadrons each, arriving first within three or four months.
“Germany will always be at the forefront when it comes to helping Ukraine,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz applauded in the German parliament.
He later said at a press conference that Germany would send further military aid to Ukraine beyond the Leopard delivery, including air defense systems, heavy artillery, multiple rocket launchers and more.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Scholz by phone and said: “I am very grateful to the Prime Minister and all my friends in Germany.”
The move removes one of the final taboos on Western aid to Ukraine against the nearly year-long Russian aggression. That is, to provide weapons primarily for offensive rather than defensive purposes.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleva said: “Thus the tank coalition was formed. Anyone who doubted the possibility of this coming to fruition will now understand. For Ukraine and its partners, nothing is impossible. ‘ said.
“I call on all new partners operating Leopard 2 tanks to join the coalition and provide as many tanks as possible,” he wrote on Twitter.
The Russian embassy in Berlin condemned Germany’s “extremely risky decision”, saying it could “destroy what remains of mutual trust” and draw Germany into the war. promised not to happen.
others to follow
The Berlin move paves the way for pledges from other countries to defend the leopards that Germany has built and exported to NATO allies.
Finland said it would send them, as did Poland, which had already sought Berlin’s approval. Spain and the Netherlands said they were under consideration, and Norway was also reported to be under consideration. Britain has proposed a company of 14 equivalent Challenger tanks, and France is considering sending Leclerc.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, “At the decisive moment of the Russian war, these tanks could help Ukraine defend itself, win, and stand as an independent state.
Two US sources said Washington will announce later on Wednesday that it will provide dozens of its own Abrams M1 tanks.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said he met with US Defense Minister Lloyd Austin on Wednesday and promised “better news to be announced soon.” Reznikov said they had discussed “further strengthening (of the Ukrainian armed forces), including the supply of tanks and the maintenance of new weapons.”
Moscow says supplying Ukraine with modern offensive weapons will only postpone what they say is an inevitable victory. said the delivery would be “another blatant provocation”.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said US tanks sent to Ukraine “burn like all other tanks.”
Last week, Russia stepped up its threats, including comments from President Vladimir Putin’s ally Dmitry Medvedev that nuclear powers facing defeat could use nuclear weapons.
Western officials who favored sending tanks dismissed Moscow’s threats, arguing that Russia was already at full war and dissuaded from attacking NATO or using nuclear weapons.
Last week, the allies pledged billions of dollars worth of military aid, including hundreds of armored fighting vehicles and personnel carriers. These are considered more effective in attacking enemy lines when used with tanks.
Withdrawal from SOLEDAR
Ukraine believes arms are regaining momentum in a war that has recently become a bloody stalemate.
Kyiv confirmed Wednesday that its troops had withdrawn from Soledar, a small salt-mining town in the east that Russia claimed to have occupied more than a week ago.
The town is near the large city of Bakhmut, which has been the focus of intense Russian attacks for weeks.
The Russian-installed governor of Ukraine’s Donetsk region said units of the Russian Wagner-contracted militia are now advancing inside Bakhmut, fighting in suburbs and neighborhoods recently occupied by Ukraine.
Reuters could not confirm the situation there.
In the 11 months since the invasion, Russia has killed thousands of civilians, displaced millions from their homes, and reduced entire cities to rubble.
It said the “special military operation” was necessary to stem security threats arising from Ukraine’s ties to the West. Kyiv and his allies maintain that Ukraine has never threatened Russia and that aggression is a war of aggression to conquer neighboring countries and seize land.
Ukraine defeated Russian forces on the outskirts of Kyiv last year and then drove them out of the occupied territories.
However, Moscow still occupies about one-sixth of Ukraine and declares this territory to be part of Russia. Ukraine has said it will not stop fighting until all its territory is retaken.
Reported by a Reuters bureau. Written by Peter Graf and Mark Heinrich.Editing by Kevin Liffey, Timothy Heritage, William McLean
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