Ukrainian soldiers practice with a mortar on the Donbas frontline CREDIT: Anadolu Agency/Anadolu
Representatives from 50 countries, 30 from NATO, meet in Germany today
US and Germany have stopped short of granting Ukraine modern battle tanks
Germany’s Leopard 2 in particular seen as vital for Kyiv’s fight against Russia
Other countries have them in their arsenal, but would require German sign-off
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded for more tanks in order to stop the Russian ‘evil’ as defence leaders from 50 countries – including all 30 NATO members – gathered in Germany to discuss the next stage of support for Kyiv.
He accused Russia of wanting the power to destroy nations, insisting that ‘the Kremlin must lose’ the war for not just Ukraine, but the whole world.
The war time leader’s virtual address at the Ramstein Air Base came as Germany was accused of displaying ‘unacceptable weakness’ in the face of Vladimir Putin’s on-going invasion of Ukraine, which is approaching the one-year mark.
The US and Germany have so far stopped short of granting Zelensky’s requests for their most modern battle tanks, which the Kremlin warned would amount to an ‘extremely dangerous’ escalation if sent by the West.
Germany is facing mounting fury over its reluctance to give Ukraine Leopard 2 tanks, in what some have said is out of fear of angering Vladimir Putin. Pictured: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stands next to a Leopard 2 tanks in October 2022 (file photo)
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded for more tanks in order to stop the Russian ‘evil’ as defence leaders from 50 countries – including all 30 NATO members – gathered in Germany to discuss the next stage of support for Kyiv (pictured)
General Sir Richard Shirreff, who served as NATO’s Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, tore into Germany ahead of Friday’s meeting at the US-operated air base, found about 65 miles from Frankfurt.
‘This is Germany hiding behind American apron strings,’ he said on reports that Germany would only supply main battle tanks if the US did the same. ‘They cannot continue to hide behind the Americans,’ he added, speaking on Sky News.
‘Germany must get on and do this. It has to step up to the mark and lift the restrictions not only for itself but of course it also is stymying the efforts of Finland and Poland who are very keen to send their own Leopard II tanks but need permission from Berlin to do so.’
Germany has been cautious about providing heavy weapons for Ukraine, but Chancellor Olaf Scholz is facing mounting pressure within Europe to authorise exports of German-made Leopard tanks ahead of the meeting at Ramstein Air Base.
At the annual World Economic Forum gathering in the Swiss resort town Davos, Scholz told US Congress members that Germany would supply heavy tanks to Ukraine if the United States sent tanks too, a senior US lawmaker said on Thursday.
President Zelensky pleads for tanks to stop Russian ‘evil’
But Berlin left the door open to letting allies supply Ukraine with the requested tanks, saying Thursday it would ‘become clear in the next few hours or tomorrow morning’.
Several other NATO countries have the powerful Leopard tanks in their arsenals and have expressed their wish to send some to Ukraine. However, any such move would require sign-off from the German government, which can veto any such move.
‘The only way to stop this (war) is to defend Ukraine and to give Ukraine the means to expel every single last Russian from Ukrainian territory,’ Sir Richard said.
‘Germany must demonstrate strength and not weakness because the Russians will only respect strength and at the moment the Germans are demonstrating frankly an unacceptable weakness.’
Poland, which has Leopard 2 tanks in its arsenal which are seen as vital in Kyiv continued fight against the Russian invaders, suggested on Friday it would send the tanks to Ukraine with or without Germany’s approval.
Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski, asked whether sending tanks to Ukraine even with opposition from Germany, said: ‘I think that if there is strong resistance, we will be ready to take even such non-standard action … but let’s not anticipate the facts.’
Finland has suggested it may also send the tanks without German approval.
The Nordic country announced on Friday a new donation of more than 400 million euros worth of defence equipment for Ukraine, not including Leopard 2 heavy tanks, which it said it could also send if there is an agreement with allies.
A destroyed Russian tank is seen by the side of the road on December 15, 2022 in Kupiansk, Ukraine. Ukraine has been asking for more advanced weaponry to continue its momentum against the invading Russian forces
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By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter