Western allies could not agree on providing tanks to Ukraine. Ukraine asked Germany for Leopard heavy tanks for a possible spring offensive on Kiev. But the country’s hopes have been dashed by Western allies. The US itself has urged Kiev to refrain from such operations. News from Reuters.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday the West had ‘no choice’ but to give Ukraine heavy tanks.
After a meeting of allies at Germany’s Ramstein air base, a top US general said it would be very difficult for Ukraine to drive Russian invaders out of the country this year.
The Ramstein meeting was dominated by whether Germany would agree to send Leopard-2 tanks to Ukraine or allow other countries to do so. However, no decision was ultimately reached in Friday’s meeting regarding the supply of tanks, officials said.
However, the meeting promised a large number of other weapons, including air defense systems and other tank models.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleskyi Reznikov said after the meeting, ‘We had an open discussion about Leopards 2. It must continue.’
A senior US official in Washington said the US was adamant about not giving Ukraine Abrams tanks yet.
US General Mark Milley and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Ramstein told a news conference, ‘From a military perspective, I still think it will be very difficult to militarily drive Russian forces out of every inch of Russian-occupied Ukraine this year.’
After Friday’s meeting, Ukraine was left somewhat disappointed. Because the war, which started last February, hangs without a solution. President Volodymyr Zelensky specifically asked the Allies for more battle tanks.
Ukraine has reported 44 dead and 20 missing after a Russian missile struck an apartment block in Dnipro this week. Russians in St. Petersburg and Moscow lay flowers in memory of the victims.
In a video speech, Zelenskiy called on allies to “speed up” arms supplies and stressed the primary need was to supply Germany’s Leopard tanks.
He said, ‘Every day we are making it more clear that there is no alternative to these tanks, a decision has to be made about the supply of tanks.’
Ahead of the Contact Group meeting, Ukraine had hoped that an Austin-led group of arms suppliers, particularly Germany, would at least agree to allow other countries operating Leopard tanks to transfer the tanks to Kiev’s army.
It is unclear whether Germany’s reluctance is due to Britain agreeing to send 14 of its Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine. German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius told reporters, ‘We cannot yet say when a decision will be made on the Leopard tank and what the decision will be.’
Austin spoke out for Germany in response to criticism that Germany was not doing enough to help Kiev.