Latest news and news of Russia’s war in Ukraine from January 14
The Western alliance’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine received a boost this week when several European nations for the first time responded to President Volodymyr Zelensky’s call to supply Kyiv with modern main battle tanks.
France, Poland and the UK have pledged to send tanks for the Ukrainian military to use in its efforts to ward off Russia. Finland is considering doing the same.
Britain plans to send a dozen Challenger 2 tanks and additional artillery systems as part of efforts to “step up” support for Ukraine, Downing Street said. Zelensky thanked Prime Minister Rishi Sunak “for decisions that will not only strengthen us on the battlefield, but also send the right signal to other partners” after the two leaders spoke by phone on Saturday.
Speaking alongside Zelensky in the Ukrainian city of Lviv on Wednesday, Poland’s President Andrzej Duda said he hoped tanks from a variety of Western allies “will soon sail through various routes to Ukraine and will be able to strengthen Ukraine’s defense.” “.
These moves have increased pressure on Germany, which last week said it would transfer infantry fighting vehicles to Kyiv but has yet to commit to sending tanks. Foreign Minister Olaf Scholz has insisted that any such plan should be fully coordinated with the entire Western alliance, including the United States.
Western officials told CNN that the decision by some countries, but not others, to send more tanks was part of a broader assessment of what was happening in Ukraine. NATO allies have spent the past few weeks talking in detail about which countries are best placed to provide specific types of assistance, whether it be military equipment or money.
A senior Western diplomat suggested that more countries could increase their levels of military support in the coming weeks as the war enters a new phase, and a new Russian offensive could be just around the corner as the anniversary approaches. of the invasion.
But the support of Germany is considered crucial. Thirteen European countries, including Poland and Finland, possess modern German Leopard 2 tanks, which were introduced in 1979 and have been upgraded several times since then, according to the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank.
While any re-export of the tank by these nations would normally need German government approval, Berlin has suggested that it would not block its transfer to Kyiv.
Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck said Thursday that Berlin will not stand in the way of other countries re-exporting Leopard tanks.
“Germany should not stand in the way of other countries making decisions to support Ukraine, regardless of what decisions Germany makes,” Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck said on the sidelines of a Green Party meeting in Berlin on Thursday.
Germany’s deputy government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann said on Friday that she had not received an official request from Poland or Finland.
“There is no question to which we would have to say no. But right now we are saying that we are in a constant exchange about what is the right thing to do right now and how we can best support Ukraine,” Hoffmann told reporters.