Zelenskiy urges western allies to send tanks to defeat the Russian invader

ukraine
Zelenskiy Urges Western Allies To Send Tanks To Defeat The Russian Invader Zelenskiy Urges Western Allies To Send Tanks To Defeat The Russian Invader
President Volodymyr Zelensky appears via video at a meeting of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group at Ramstein airbase in Germany, © Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
Share this article

By Gavin Cordon, PA Whitehall Editor

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has appealed to western allies to speed up the delivery of military support – including badly needed heavy armour – in his country’s struggle against the Russia invader.

In an address to a pledging conference at the US airbase in Ramstein, Germany, he urged assembled defence ministers to agree in “principle” to supply his forces with modern battle tanks.

So far among the Nato allies, only the UK has agreed to send tanks, in the form of 14 British Army Challenger 2s.

 

Mr Zelenskiy’s call will intensify the pressure on Germany to authorise the release of its Leopard 2 battle tanks, which are potentially available in far greater numbers.

Speaking remotely from Ukraine, Mr Zelenskiy thanked allies for their previous support but said “hundreds of thank yous are not hundreds of tanks”.

Advertisement

“We have to speed up. Time must become our weapon, just like air defence and artillery, armoured vehicles and tanks, which we are negotiating about with you and which will actually make a victory,” he said.

“You can start this policy today. It is in your power to make a Ramstein of tanks. Not to bargain about different numbers of tanks but to open (the) principle (of) supply that will stop Russian evil.”

Mr Zelenskiy’s plea for greater speed was echoed by US defence secretary Lloyd Austin, who convened the talks and said the conflict has reached a “decisive moment”.

“Russia is regrouping, recruiting and trying to re-equip. This is not a moment to slow down. It is a time to dig deeper,” he said.

UK defence secretary Ben Wallace also appealed to allies to keep up the pressure on Moscow on the battlefield.

“The UK is leading international support for Ukraine by becoming the first nation to donate modern, Western main battle tanks,” he said in a statement.

Advertisement

“It is crucial that we build on this momentum supported by our international partners, who are determined like us, to ensure that Putin’s illegal and unprovoked invasion fails.”

The Ukrainians are seeking around 300 tanks to enable them to mount a counter-offensive, with the German-built Leopard 2s – which are widely used by European armies – seen as the most suitable candidate.

Poland has offered to send a company of its Leopard 2s, but requires a sign-off from Berlin, which issued the original export licences, if they are to be re-exported.

So far, however, the government of chancellor Olaf Scholz has been reluctant to do so amid concerns about the likely reaction in Moscow.

Reports have suggested the Germans would be prepared to relent if the US were to release some of its Abrams tanks.

The Americans however argue that the Abrams is a more complex machine – requiring more training for crews – while their turbine engines are heavy on fuel, making them unsuitable for Ukraine’s beleaguered forces.

Advertisement

Amid growing impatience in Kyiv and among some allies, Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki has suggested he would be willing to send Leopard 2s without Germany’s consent.

“We will either obtain this consent quickly, or we will do it ourselves,” he told Polish radio.

Ahead of the Ramstein gathering, Mr Austin met new German defence minister Boris Pistorius in Berlin on Thursday, but there was no immediate sign of any breakthrough.

Mr Wallace said that in addition to its latest support package, including the Challenger 2s and other heavy armour, the UK would be sending a further 600 Brimstone precision-guided missiles.

The US on Thursday announced a $2.5 billion Ukraine aid package which includes 90 Stryker combat vehicles, 59 Bradley fighting vehicles and hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition.

The more heavily armoured and tracked Bradleys and the medium-armoured Strykers will provide Ukraine “with two brigades of armoured capability”, the Pentagon said in a statement.

Read More

Want us to email you top stories each lunch time?

Download our Apps
© BreakingNews.ie 2023, developed by Square1 and powered by PublisherPlus.com