Allies fail to agree on delivery of heavy tanks to Ukraine | War in Ukraine
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius leaves after a press conference during the meeting of the “Ukrainian Defense Contact Group” at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on Friday, January 20, 2023.
Germany has claimed that no decision was taken at the allies' meeting in Ramstein on Friday on the delivery of heavy tanks to Ukraine, dampening kyiv's hopes that clamoring for them to repel the Russian invasion.
Ukraine's allies failed on Friday to agree on the delivery heavy tanks, dampening the hopes of kyiv, which insistently demands them, but will now have to wait for further discussions, and a green light from Germany.
The Germans haven't made up their mind on Leopard tanks, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin soberly said after a meeting of Westerners at the US base in Ramstein, Germany. Germany.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (left) attends the opening speech by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky (on video screen) at the meeting of the 'Contact Group for the Defense of Ukraine” at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on Friday, January 20, 2023.
Kyiv's expectations were high ahead of this meeting of some 50 countries to coordinate the military aid of the allies against the Russian invasion.
Experts say modern, Western-designed heavy tanks would be a crucial advantage for kyiv in the looming battles in eastern Ukraine, where Russia is back on the offensive after have suffered heavy setbacks this winter.
Poland and Finland have offered to deliver German-made Leopard tanks, but any shipments of such armaments must receive the green light from Berlin , who is reluctant to do so at this stage.
But on this thorny subject, the positions are far from being as homogeneous as one might think, assured on the sidelines of the meeting the new German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius.
Mr. Pistorius, in office only since Thursday, however denied the impression that his country was blocking the decision, assuring that Berlin was acting and launching an inventory of Leopard stocks available to its army and industry.
A dozen countries have Leopard-2 type tanks, made in Germany.
The US Secretary of Defense came to the aid of Berlin, calling it a reliable ally.
But we can all do more to help kyiv, a he blurted out in front of the press.
At the opening of the meeting, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zekensky had urged the allies to speed up their deliveries of heavy weapons.
It is within your power to launch a major supply that will stop evil, he said via video link.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov immediately countered that it would not change anything on the ground, accusing Western states to entertain the illusion of a possible Ukrainian victory on the battlefield.
However, things could change in the coming weeks.
Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak thus declared himself convinced that the allies will eventually succeed in creating a coalition to deliver Leopards to Ukraine.
We have a window of opportunity here between now and spring, when Ukraine begins its counteroffensive, said Mr. Austin.
Until then, various additional military aid packages recently pledged by several countries provide Ukrainian forces with the capability they need to achieve success on the ground, the Pentagon chief said.
The United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden and even Denmark announced substantial new arms deliveries a few hours before the meeting.
Washington will release a tranche of $ 2.5 billion, including 59 Bradley armored vehicles, which will be added to the 50 light armored vehicles of this type promised on January 6, and 90 Stryker armored personnel carriers, according to the Pentagon . But no Abrams heavy tanks.
The UK has pledged to send Ukraine an additional 600 Brimstone missiles, Denmark, 19 Caesar-made cannons France, and Sweden Archer self-propelled guns.
Finland on Friday announced 400 million euros in military aid to Ukraine, its largest contribution to date, which includes artillery and ammunition.
“From a military point of view […] it will be very difficult to expel Russian forces this year from all occupied areas of Ukraine.
—Mark Milley, U.S. Army General
On Friday, the besieged city of Bakhmout (east), the current epicenter of the fighting, was again violently bombarded, AFP journalists noted.
Look, look, It's my apartment, it's the only apartment I have, lamented Olga Tomak, 70, contemplating with Mykola, her husband, her building burning after a strike.
The Russian occupation authorities said they had noted a sharp increase in the intensity of the fighting in the southern Zaporizhia region, where clashes were taking place along the entire front line.
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Western fears include that kyiv could escalate by using these weapons to strike deep into Russian territory and air and naval bases in Crimea, a peninsula annexed in 2014 by Russia.
Meanwhile, the UN announced on Friday the arrival of a first humanitarian convoy in the vicinity of Soledar, a town in eastern Ukraine claimed last week by the Russian army and Wagner Group mercenaries.
Security services Ukrainians (SBU) also claimed to have arrested seven Russian agents in the Dnipro region (east), suspected of spying for Moscow and possibly being involved in the attack. an apartment building in this town that had claimed at least 45 lives, including 6 children.