The pressure on Germany to deliver tanks to Ukraine is increasing

By Herbert Villarrga and Tom Balmforth

DNIPRO, Ukraine/KYIV (Reuters) – Ukraine moved closer on Tuesday to a favorable decision by its Western allies on the supply of battle tanks that could change the dynamics of its conflict with Russia, while Germany has so far expressed reluctance. be the first point addressed by his new defense minister.

In Dnipro, authorities have ended search and rescue operations under the rubble of an apartment building in the eastern city of the country, where at least 44 people, including five children, were killed by Russian gunfire on Saturday. rocket.

According to emergency services, 20 people are still missing after the attack. 39 people were pulled out from under the rubble, and 79 others were injured.

Nearly 11 months after the Russian invasion, Kyiv is calling on Western countries to supply its troops with battle tanks that will give them the firepower they need to repel Russian attacks.

German-made Leopard tanks – the spearhead of the military arsenal in Europe – are unanimously considered the only possible option for mass support for Ukraine. But their delivery is stopped by the Berlin agreement, which is delayed in giving the green light.

Western allies, who are due to meet at a US military base in Germany on Friday to agree on military support for Ukraine, are pressuring the German government to drop its protests this week, which would be a major step in Western aid to Kiev.

The decision will be the first item on the agenda of new German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, who was announced on Tuesday to replace Christine Lambrecht, who resigned the day before.

“When a person is announced as defense minister, this is the first question to be decided concretely,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck told Deutschlandfunk radio on Tuesday.

Boris Pistorius, an influential regional politician close to Chancellor Olaf Scholz, did not mention weapons for Ukraine in his first statement after his appointment.

“I know the importance of the task,” he said. “For me, it is important to involve the soldiers closely and take them with me.”

Boris Pistorius is due to meet US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ahead of a planned meeting between Western allies at the Ramstein base on Thursday.

Germany fears that the delivery of tanks constitutes a dangerous escalation in the conflict in Ukraine. But for its allies, this concern is misplaced when Russia refuses to stop its attacks on Ukraine.

Britain overcame Berlin’s reluctance by promising to deliver Challenger tanks, but they are too limited in number to provide significant support to the Ukrainian military.

US Abrams tanks are not an option as they burn too much fuel to be useful to Ukrainian forces.

This leaves the only door open to Leopard tanks, which Germany produced in their thousands during the Cold War and are now used by European armies. Poland and Finland have already declared their readiness to send Leopard tanks to Kiev if Berlin agrees to re-export.

“We hope and are trying to organize more support for Ukraine. We hope that some partners, allies will donate tanks to Ukraine,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.


Tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions of people have been forced to leave their homes since Russia launched a “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24.

Ukrainian forces have managed to repel Russian forces in the second half of the year, but despite heavy fighting that has caused heavy losses of life and property over the past two months, the front line has barely advanced.

For Ukrainian officials, the contribution of battle tanks from Western countries would allow to get out of this impasse.

Russia claimed responsibility last week for capturing the small town of Soledar, near the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, but Kyiv says fighting is still ongoing.

At the same time, since October, Moscow has been relentlessly bombing Ukrainian cities far from the frontline, targeting energy infrastructure. By doing so, Russia hopes to weaken Ukraine’s fighting capabilities, which in turn condemns war crimes.

In Dnipro, residents laid flowers and soft toys in front of a makeshift memorial near a building destroyed by a wave of Russian rocket attacks on Saturday.

Moscow denies targeting civilians and blames Ukraine’s anti-aircraft defenses.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi said in a televised address on Monday evening that the Dnieper attack and recent Russian attacks underscore the need for the West to “accelerate decision-making” on arms supplies.

(Written by Peter Graff; Editing by Blandine Henault for the French version)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *