- The Kremlin has said that giving tanks to Ukraine would not help and that the West would regret its "delusion" that Kyiv could win on the battlefield.
- Ukraine and the West say that Russia's actions are an unprovoked land grab to control a fellow former Soviet republic that Moscow sees as an artificial state.
Sources say that the US will announce on Wednesday that it will send heavy tanks to Ukraine, and Germany has decided to do the same. This is a change that Kyiv says will change the way its war with Russia is fought.
A few hours before his 45th birthday on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy pushed for his forces to get more than five to fifteen new tanks.
Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address that discussions must end with decisions. “Choices about how to really make our defences against terrorists stronger. The right number of tanks are with the allies.”
Two U.S. officials told Reuters on Tuesday that Washington was ready to start a process that would eventually send M1 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine. This was just a few days after the U.S. argued against giving Kyiv what it asked for. A third official said that the U.S. could send about 30 tanks over the next few months as part of its promise.
Two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had decided to send Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine and let other countries, like Poland, do the same.
Spiegel magazine was the first to report the news. It said that Germany planned to send at least one company, which usually has 14 tanks, of Leopard 2 A6 tanks. The magazine said that other allies, like those in Scandinavia, also plan to send their Leopard tanks to Kyiv along with Germany.
Even though there was no official confirmation from Berlin or Washington, officials in Kyiv praised what they said could be a big change on the battlefield in a war that has been going on for 11 months, even though the number of tanks rumoured fell short of what they had hoped for.
The head of Zelenskiy’s administration, Andriy Yermak, wrote on Telegram, “A few hundred tanks for our tank crews… This is what is going to become a real punching fist of democracy.”
Kyiv has been asking for Western tanks for months, saying that they would give its troops the firepower and mobility they need to break through Russian defence lines and retake land in the east and south that Russia has taken over. Germany hasn’t done much because it doesn’t want to do anything that could make Moscow get angry.
FRONT LINES FROZEN
Even though both sides have lost a lot of people in the war, the front lines, which stretch more than 1,000 km through eastern and southern Ukraine, have been mostly still for two months. Many people think that both Russia and Ukraine are planning new offensives.
Zelenskiy said on Tuesday night that Russia was putting more pressure on an industrial town in eastern Ukraine called Bakhmut, which has been the centre of a lot of fighting. He said, “They want to put more pressure on a bigger scale.”
In recent days, Kyiv’s Western allies have mostly talked about whether or not to give Ukraine a lot of heavy modern battle tanks.
The Kremlin has said that giving tanks to Ukraine would not help and that the West would regret its “delusion” that Kyiv could win on the battlefield.
Berlin has been very important because the Leopard tanks, which are made in Germany and are used by about 20 armies around the world, are generally thought to be the best choice. There are a lot of tanks, and they are easy to use and keep up.
Even though the U.S. Abrams tank isn’t as good because it uses a lot of fuel and is hard to keep up, sending them to Ukraine could make it easier for Germany, which has asked Ukraine’s allies to stand together, to let Leopard tanks come in.
Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, says that the “special military operation” that started when his troops invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2014, was a defensive and existential battle against an aggressive and arrogant West.
Ukraine and the West say that Russia’s actions are an unprovoked land grab to control a fellow former Soviet republic that Moscow sees as an artificial state.
Separately on Tuesday, Ukraine fired more than a dozen top officials as part of its fight against corruption, which is even more important because it needs support from the West.
The European Union, which gave Ukraine the status of “candidate member” last June, was happy about this.
The governors of Kyiv, Sumy, Dnipropetrovsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia, the last three of which are on the front lines, were among the Ukrainian officials who quit or were fired. At the start of the war, Kyiv and Sumy were both important battlegrounds.
Some, but not all, of the people who left their jobs were accused of being corrupt.
Ukraine has a history of bribery and bad government, and it is under pressure from the rest of the world to show that it can be trusted with billions of dollars in aid from the West.