The United States and Germany have announced plans to send dozens of advanced battle tanks to Ukraine after intense negotiations and pressure for NATO allies to respond positively to Kiev’s calls for up to 300 tanks to repel an 11-month full-scale Russian offensive. occupation.
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Their decisions follow Britain’s decision earlier this month to send 14 Challenger 2 tanks, all of which could require months of training and other preparations.
Kyiv quickly hailed German and US tank pledges as crucial to its hopes of victory, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was quick to stress that “speed and volume are now key”.
In his night address, Zelensky said that he also spoke with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltengerg and asked for long-range missiles and aircraft to be sent.
President Joe Biden has said the United States will send 31 highly advanced Abrams tanks to Russia, which it says are not an offensive threat.
Moscow has warned that it considers the West’s provision of such tanks to its smaller post-Soviet enemy a dangerous provocation.
Speaking from the White House, Biden said that NATO’s tanks for Ukraine will help them “improve their ability to maneuver in open terrain.”
He evaluated Berlin’s statement a few hours ago as proof that “Germany is really getting stronger.”
“The expectation from Russia is that we’re going to fall apart, but we’re fully, completely and thoroughly united,” Biden added.
In addition to the tanks, the Washington aid will reportedly include eight tracked rescue and towing vehicles known as M88s.
U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby later said it would be “many months” before U.S. tanks arrive, but Ukraine should be prepared for improved weather conditions and increased Russian attacks.
He added that there is no indication of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plan to attack NATO territory.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has announced the delivery of 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, paving the way for the re-export of their German-made Leopards to third countries, citing fears of a Russian spring offensive and an intensified attack on Ukraine. after the troops were forced to retreat from the city of Soledar.
Scholz said the decision, approved on January 25, was “the right principle” in the face of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of its neighbor. German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius added that the first Leopard tanks could be in Ukraine within three months.
Later, Biden and Scholz held talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Richie Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, and they reportedly agreed on the need for continued military support to Ukraine and close transatlantic coordination.
Zelensky received quickly The White House calls the move “a strong decision” and “an important step on the road to victory.”
“Today, the free world is united like never before for a common goal — to be free [Ukraine]. We are moving forward,” he added.
According to the German government, Berlin’s goal is to quickly create two battalions of Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine, adding that in the first phase it will provide 14 tanks from its military reserves.
Scholz said Western allies would continue to support Ukraine, but warned that decisions should be made with caution that they could further inflame the conflict, now in its 12th month.
“In everything we do, we must always make it clear that we are doing what is necessary and possible to support Ukraine, but at the same time prevent the war from turning into a war between Russia and NATO,” Scholz told the Bundestag. , the lower house of the German parliament.
Zelensky too He thanked Scholz He said Germany had “a green light for the supply of similar weapons to partners” for “important and timely decisions”.
Kyiv hopes the move will shift the balance on the battlefield as Russia continues to press heavily on Ukrainian defenders in eastern Ukraine on January 25. confirmed He said that he had completely retreated from the strategically important city of Soledar.
“The first tank step has been taken” he said Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian Presidential Administration, added that this would be the beginning of a “tank coalition” to meet Kiev’s needs.
Norway’s Defense Minister Bjoern Arild Gram said that after Germany’s statement, Norway will also send tanks to Ukraine, but did not say how many tanks it will send.
Poland, Spain, Finland, the Netherlands and Norway are some of the other European countries expected to follow suit and supply some of the Leopard tanks to Ukraine.
Defense Minister Margarita Robles said, without elaborating: “Spain … is ready to engage with our allies in any way necessary, whether it’s the deployment of Leopards, training in the use of Leopards or assistance in maintaining and maintaining them.”
Swedish Defense Minister Pal Johnson, who has blocked Turkey’s entry into NATO, told the AFP news agency that his country “does not rule out” sending Leopard 2s to Ukraine.
Germany’s statement was met with support from the West, and mockery from Moscow.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who has already announced plans to send 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, welcomed Germany’s decision to “further strengthen Ukraine’s defense firepower.”
“Together, we are accelerating our efforts to help Ukraine win this war and ensure lasting peace,” Sunak said. Twitter.
He further added that the West should “strengthen” its support for Ukraine.
NATO member Stoltenberg “strongly” welcomed Germany’s decision, saying it could help Kiev defeat Russian occupation forces.
“At a critical moment in the Russian war, they can help Ukraine defend itself, win and win as an independent state,” Stoltenberg wrote. Twitter.
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Russia was angry with this decision of its ambassador to Germany Sergey Nechayev and called it “extremely dangerous”. He accused Berlin of being “prone to constant escalation” of the conflict.
“This extremely dangerous decision takes the conflict to a new level of confrontation and contradicts the statements of German politicians that Germany does not want to get involved,” he said, adding that “Germany, like its close allies, is not interested in a diplomatic solution to the conflict.” It contributes to the resolution of the Ukrainian crisis and tends to its constant escalation and overwhelming strengthening of the Kyiv regime with more lethal weapons.
In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Western political decisions, including the sending of tanks, create a “very, very tense” security situation in Europe and the world as a whole.
The BBC, referring to Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to Washington, called the supply of M1 Abram tanks to Ukraine “a clear provocation against the Russian Federation.”
He accused the US of “giving us a strategic defeat”.
Ukrainian forces admitted on January 25, in an apparent battlefield failure, that they had completed their withdrawal from the strategic town of Soledar in Donetsk after weeks of intense fighting with Russian forces.
Reuters and AFP news agencies quoted a spokesman for the Ukrainian army as saying that the move resulted in soldiers returning to pre-determined positions.
“After months of fierce fighting, including in recent weeks, the armed forces of Ukraine (Soledar) have withdrawn and withdrawn to ready positions on the outskirts,” Ukrainian military spokesman Serhiy Cherevatiy was quoted as saying by AFP.
Russia claimed control of the salt mining town of about 10,000 people earlier this month. Soledar is about 20 kilometers from the strategic city of Bakhmut, where fighting has been going on for months without either side gaining the upper hand.
On January 25, the Ukrainian military said that despite suffering “numerous casualties”, Russian troops continued to attack in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, mainly in Bakhmut and Avdiyivka in Donetsk, where fierce fighting has been going on for months.