Ukraine war: Kyiv urges allies to ‘stop trembling before Putin’

L’Ukraine repeated calls for its Western allies to supply tanks and “stop moving” to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, despite reluctance from some leaders who fear an escalation of tensions with Moscow. “There is no taboo. From Washington to London, from Paris to Warsaw, they say something: Ukraine needs tanks; this is the key to ending the war,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak wrote on Twitter. “It’s time to stop trembling in front of (Vladimir) Putin and take the last step,” he urged.

Ukraine on Thursday called on the West to “significantly” increase arms supplies to defeat Russia’s military. Great Britain and Denmark responded. Britain’s defense secretary said on Thursday it would send an additional 600 Brimstone missiles to Ukraine to help fight Russia’s invasion of Estonia. “I can say today that we will also send 600 more Brimstone missiles into the theater of operations, which will be incredibly important in helping Ukraine dominate the battlefield,” said Ben Wallace.
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Denmark, in turn, decided to give Ukraine all 19 French-made long-range Caesar weapons, some of which have not yet been delivered. The government, supported by the parliament, “decided to donate all 19 French-made Caesar artillery to the Ukrainian army,” Defense Minister Jacob Elleman-Jensen said in a statement. However, the Kremlin stressed that handing Kiev longer-range weapons capable of striking deep into Russian territory would lead to escalation, as a contact group on Ukraine met on Friday to coordinate continued Western military aid.

Reluctant US

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, speaking via video conference within the framework of the Davos Economic Forum in Switzerland, taught a lesson to those who hesitated on Thursday and mocked those who said, “If someone else does it, I will deliver the tanks.” “I don’t think it’s the right strategy,” he lamented, taking aim at Berlin, while also coming under increasing pressure from several European neighbors to allow delivery of the Leopards. According to press reports, Berlin will deliver the heavy tanks if the US does the same with its Abrams. But according to a senior Pentagon official, Washington is not ready to supply Ukraine with these powerful battle tanks in the near future.

“nothing good”

The Leopards are among the modern, Western-designed heavy tanks that experts say are crucial to the ongoing and upcoming battles in eastern and southern Ukraine. Ukrainian officials have also said they need longer-range missiles to be able to hit Russia’s supply chain, including ammunition depots. But despite Ukraine’s assurances, Westerners fear that Kyiv could use these weapons to launch strikes on Russian territory and air and naval bases in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, escalating the war.

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On Thursday, the Kremlin also issued a clear warning: the delivery of longer-range weapons “means the conflict will reach a new level” and “doesn’t bode well for European security.” Nevertheless, according to New York Times, the Biden administration is beginning to consider allowing Ukraine to attack Crimea because it is a key rear base for Russia’s war effort. President Zelenskiy once again declared his desire to take back all occupied Ukrainian territories, including the peninsula.

On Friday, defense ministers and senior military officials from Western countries providing military aid to Ukraine will meet in the German city of Ramstein around US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to coordinate. The UK has already pledged 14 Challenger 2 heavy tanks and Poland has said it is ready to send 14 German-made Leopard 2 tanks. But Ukraine needs several hundred of these vehicles to be able to attack in the East and South.

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Especially after Russian forces, backed by the Wagner paramilitary group, redoubled their efforts to capture the town of Bakhmout in Donetsk region, which has been the scene of months of bloody fighting. Over the past 15 days, Russian fighters have gained ground, capturing a large part of the nearby town of Soledar. Throughout the autumn, especially thanks to the armament of the West, Ukraine inflicted a number of setbacks on the Kremlin forces, taking back the north-east and part of the south of the country.

“Heavier, more modern” weapons

Reznikov and Kouleba reminded that Kiev needs equipment to continue its counterattack, because “Russia maintains a significant quantitative advantage in troops, weapons and military equipment.” On Wednesday in Davos, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg assured that member countries would provide “heavier and more modern” weapons. Meanwhile, European Council President Charles Michel was in Kiev on Thursday to discuss new support measures with Volodymyr Zelensky.

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In Ukraine, the investigation continued the day after a helicopter crashed near Kyiv, killing Ukrainian Interior Minister Denis Monastyrsky and at least 13 others. Asked about the cause of the accident on Thursday, Vladimir Zelensky refused to “talk about various hypotheses until the end of the investigation.” On the humanitarian front, Mirjana Spoljaric, the new president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, is visiting Moscow on Thursday and Friday to meet with Russian government officials and discuss urgent humanitarian needs and access to prisoners of war.

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