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No breakthrough on German-made tanks for Ukraine

20.01.2023 16:30
Western defence ministers met at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday to discuss more weapons deliveries to Ukraine, but made no decision on whether German-made Leopard battle tanks can be sent to the war-torn country, officials told reporters.
Western defence ministers failed to agree on a plan to send Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine when they met at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday, officials told reporters.
Western defence ministers failed to agree on a plan to send Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine when they met at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday, officials told reporters.PAP/EPA/Ronald Wittek

Export authorisation for the tanks was discussed at the meeting of the so-called Ukraine Defence Contact Group at Ramstein, but no decision has been taken, Germany’s Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said afterwards, the Reuters news agency reported.

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius. Photo: EPA/RONALD WITTEK

Pistorius told reporters that there were “good reasons for and against sending Ukraine the tanks.”

He added that Germany was ready to “move quickly” if there was agreement with allies about the tanks, according to Reuters.

Pistorius revealed that he had instructed his ministry on Friday morning to “undertake an examination of the stocks” of the available tanks, Britain’s The Guardian newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit dismissed reports that Berlin’s decision on the delivery of Leopard 2 tanks would be dependent on whether or not America provided its M1-Abrams tanks to Ukraine, according to The Guardian.

“At no time has there been any deal or demand that one thing would follow on from another,” Hebestreit said. 

Asked about Poland’s suggestion it could deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine without receiving an export licence from Germany, Hebestreit said: “All our partners will surely want to behave in a law-abiding way.”

Zelensky urges Germany, allies to send tanks to Ukraine and 'stop Russian evil’

During the Ramstein meeting, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky appealed to Germany and fellow Western allies to deliver modern battle tanks to Kyiv, Polish state news agency PAP reported. 

Speaking via video link from the Ukrainian capital, Zelensky told the assembled defence leaders: “It is in your power … to open a principled supply [of tanks] that will stop Russian evil,“ as quoted by the presidential website. 

‘Dig deeper,’ Pentagon chief tells allies

Earlier, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin called on allies to “dig deeper” in their aid to Ukraine, stressing that "history is watching us," The Guardian reported. 

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

He added: “But Ukrainian people are watching us. The Kremlin is watching us and history is watching us. So we won’t let up. And we won’t waver in our determination to help Ukraine defend itself from Russia’s imperial aggression.”

Earlier in the day, Austin praised Poland’s role in helping Ukraine.

He said: “Poland has been a leader in providing armoured vehicles, in training Ukrainian forces, and in providing shelter for Ukrainian refugees.”

Ammunition, spare parts, maintenance, training: NATO chief

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who also attended the Ramstein get-together, said that countries supporting Ukraine needed to focus not only on sending new weapons to Kyiv, but also on ammunition for older systems and on helping maintain them, Reuters reported.

"We need also to remember that we need to not only focus on new platforms, but also to ensure that all the platforms which are already there can function as they should," Stoltenberg said on the sidelines of the meeting.

He added: "We need ammunition. We need spare parts. We need maintenance and we need training."

Stoltenberg praised Germany for providing massive military assistance to Ukraine, notably in the form of artillery systems, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported. 

He added that Germany on Friday pledged a significant package of armoured equipment to Ukraine, according to IAR.

The Ramstein arms-pledging conference was attended by Ukraine-supporting defence ministers from around 50 countries, including Poland’s Mariusz Błaszczak, as well as Ukraine's Oleksii Reznikov, officials said.

Friday is day 331 of Russia’s war against Ukraine. 


Source: IAR, PAP, Reuters, president.gov.ua, The Guardian, Ukrinform