Delivery of heavy tanks to Ukraine: the United States and Germany stall | War in Ukraine

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Heavy tank delivery to Ukraine: US and Germany stall | War in Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is under increased pressure from several European leaders to allow delivery to Ukraine of Leopard 2 tanks.

After several statements from the West in recent days regarding the delivery of certain heavy tanks to Ukraine, two of its biggest allies in the face of the Russian offensive, the United States and Germany, are showing increasingly hesitant about this possibility.

Ukraine has been asking the West for weeks for modern tanks to repel the Russian invasion, but so far they have only sent light tanks and armored personnel carriers of troops.

A senior Pentagon official said on Wednesday that the United States was not ready to provide its most advanced heavy tanks to Ukraine for maintenance and training purposes.

I don't think we're there yet, Pentagon number three Colin Kahl said when asked during a press briefing about the possibility of sending Abrams tanks to kyiv after the announcement last weekend from the UK, which was the first country to promise heavy tanks, Challenger 2.

“The Abrams tank is a very complicated piece of equipment. It's expensive, it requires hard training, it has a jet engine. I believe it consumes 11 liters of kerosene per kilometer. It's not the easiest system to maintain. »

— Colin Kahl, US Undersecretary of Defense for Strategy

An Abrams tank during a military exercise in Georgia in 2016

The Undersecretary of Defense for Strategy, however, did not rule out that his country, which has already spent 24 billion US dollars to help Ukraine defend itself, could change its mind about to the possibility of supplying it with such equipment.

According to him, the United States Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, has so far carefully avoided supplying the Ukrainians with armaments that& #x27;they can't fix, they can't maintain, and they can't afford in the long run, which includes the Abrams tank.

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On the German side, Chancellor Olaf Scholz made the export of German-built tanks to Ukraine conditional on that of the Americans.

In other words, Berlin will allow the export of Leopard 2 tanks – German-built and the spearhead of the European arsenal – only when the United States sends its own tanks to the front line. Ukrainian. This is what a source in the German government told Reuters.

Mr. Scholz has pointed out this condition privately several times over the past few days, according to the same source, who also prefers to remain anonymous.

This information has also been reported by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung as well as by the Wall Street Journal. Contacted by AFP, a spokesperson for the German government however refused to confirm this information.

A dozen countries have Leopard 2 type tanks, built in Germany.

Leopard 2 tanks are unanimously considered the only possible choice to massively support Ukraine, but their delivery is suspended by the Berlin agreement, which is slow to give the green light to the countries which possess them.

Indeed, Germany does not allow the countries which have bought this equipment from it to export it in turn to a third country. Finnish, Lithuanian, Polish and British leaders again called for a quick decision on Tuesday.

Last weekend, the UK for its part pledged to deliver modern Challenger 2 tanks, which would be the first delivery of Western-built heavy tanks.

Some 50 allied nations are to meet at the US military base in Ramstein, Germany, on Friday to discuss additional military support for Ukraine, which is currently the scene of bloody fighting in the United States. east, around the towns of Soledar and Bakhmout.

The main message will be increased support with heavier and more modern weapons, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a roundtable in Davos.

Shortly before, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky intervened by videoconference to launch a call for speed in which it was difficult not to see an allusion to Germany's hesitation to authorize the delivery to his country of Leopard 2 tanks.

US officials, who requested anonymity, told Reuters that the United States should, during the meeting, x27;commit to supplying Canadian-built Stryker armored vehicles, not offer to export their own tanks.

Soldiers near a Stryker tank in Vilseck, Germany, in 2022

With information from Agence France-Presse, and Reuters

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