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Ukraine war: Zelensky Wants Speedy Delivery Of Western Tanks

Story Highlights
  • The German-made Leopard 2 tanks, on the other hand, will be drawn from existing stocks and should arrive within two to three months.
  • According to sources, Germany's final decision to send the tanks was contingent on the United States also sending tanks.

Volodymyr Zelensky urged the West to provide long-range missiles and fighter jets in his nightly address.

His remarks followed the United States and Germany’s announcement that they would send Abrams and Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

Russia blasted the announcement as a “blatant provocation” and threatened to destroy any tanks delivered.

The tanks would “burn like the rest,” claimed Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin. They are simply quite pricey.

Mr. Zelensky stated that he conveyed to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that “progress must be made in other sectors of our defence cooperation” – with Ukraine wanting long-range missile and artillery supply.

“We must construct such a tank force, such a freedom force, that after it strikes, tyranny will never again rise,” he demanded, in addition to the timely supply of Western tanks in large numbers.

After acquiring the tanks, Mr. Zelensky is likely to concentrate on arming the Ukrainian air force with more technologically advanced fighter jets. However, many Western nations continue to oppose such a move out of concern that the aircraft could be used to strike targets within Russia.

In his Wednesday speech to the Bundestag in Berlin explaining the details of the tank proposal, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reiterated that “no fighter jets will be delivered to Ukraine.”

President Biden announced the shipment of 31 M1 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine on Wednesday.

The decision to deliver the tanks was made hours after Germany declared that it would deploy 14 Leopard 2 tanks to the Ukrainian theatre.

Additionally, Berlin made it possible for other European nations to donate German-built tanks from their own stocks.

Ukraine has been lobbying Western partners for months to deploy the weaponry.

It hailed the dual declarations as a turning point that would enable its forces to restore momentum and reclaim occupied territory nearly a year after the invasion by Moscow.

It further stated that the tanks may hinder a hypothetical Russian spring offensive.

US President Joe Biden, in announcing the decision to deploy tanks on the battlefield, stated that Mr. Putin anticipated Europe and the United States to “weaken our resolve,” adding, “He was wrong from the start and he continues to be wrong.”

“We are also providing the Ukraine with the required parts and equipment to efficiently maintain these tanks in battle,” he said.

This is about assisting Ukraine in defending and protecting Ukrainian territory; it is not a danger to Russia.

Mr. Biden noted that a typical Ukrainian tank battalion consists of 31 tanks, which is why that number was agreed upon.

The Biden administration has maintained for some time that the large M1 Abrams tanks would be difficult to supply, costly to maintain, and difficult for Ukrainian forces to operate.

M1 Abrams

The military vehicle manufactured in the United States is one of the most advanced combat tanks in the world and requires substantial training to operate.

In addition to ammunition, equipment, and cash for training and maintenance, the $400m (£323m) US package includes eight recovery vehicles that can tow the tanks if they become stranded.

However, it will likely be some months before the tanks arrive on the battlefield.

John Kirby, the national security spokesman for the White House, stated that the United States possessed no surplus Abrams tanks. Therefore, they must be obtained from private contractors or imported from abroad.

The German-made Leopard 2 tanks, on the other hand, will be drawn from existing stocks and should arrive within two to three months. They are regarded as one of the most effective battle tanks on the market.

Following weeks of diplomatic debate, the decision to dispatch the heavier weaponry was made. According to sources, Germany’s final decision to send the tanks was contingent on the United States also sending tanks.

When questioned if the US action was intended to provide cover for Germany to send tanks, Mr. Kirby responded, “I wouldn’t use the word cover. Rather, this decision demonstrates our solidarity with our partners.”

Without elaboration, he attributed the shift in Washington’s posture to the conditions on the ground and Russia’s methods.

Leopard 2

In the near future, Ukrainian crews will be trained to operate Leopard tanks in Germany, according to Berlin officials.

Although the acquisition of tanks from the West would be viewed as a diplomatic triumph for Mr. Zelensky, he stated on Tuesday that his country needed at least 300 tanks to fight Russia.

Several European nations own Leopard 2 tanks, and the German decision allows for some of these to be supplied to Ukraine. Germany anticipates delivering approximately 90 soldiers to the battlefield.

Norway declared late Wednesday that it will provide some of its armoured vehicles, but did not specify how many. Poland plans to export fourteen Leopard 2 tanks to the Ukraine.

The United Kingdom was the first NATO member to give modern tanks to Ukraine when the administration of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak declared that 14 Challenger 2s – the main battle tank of the British army – would be provided.

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