Germany cleared the way on Wednesday for Europe to send scores of battle tanks to Ukraine, and Washington was poised to make a similar announcement — moves hailed by Kyiv as a potential turning point in the war and condemned by Moscow as escalation.
Kyiv has been calling for months for Western main battle tanks that would give its forces greater firepower, protection and mobility to break through Russian defensive lines and potentially swoop through territory occupied by the invaders.
Germany, said it would send an initial company of 14 of its Leopard 2 tanks from its own stocks, and also approve shipments by other European countries.
The aim would be to supply Ukraine with two battalions of Leopards, typically comprising three or four companies, each with around 14 tanks. Berlin said the first would arrive within three or four months, and that it would also provide training, ammunition and maintenance.
“This decision follows our well-known line of supporting Ukraine to the best of our ability. We are acting in a closely coordinated manner internationally,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a statement.
Germany’s decision immediately paves the way for pledges from other countries that also use the same tanks.
Spain and the Netherlands said they too could send Leopards and Norway was were considering the matter. Poland and Finland had already pledged to send some as soon as Berlin approved.
Britain has offered a company of 14 of its comparable Challengers and France is considering sending its Leclercs.
US to follow?
Two sources in the United States said Washington would announce later on Wednesday that it would provide dozens of its Abrams M1 tanks.
“The right decision by Nato Allies and friends to send main battle tanks to Ukraine. Alongside Challenger 2s, they will strengthen Ukraine’s defensive firepower,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wrote on Twitter.
Russia reacts with threats
Russia’s embassy in Germany denounced Berlin’s “extremely dangerous decision”, which it said could draw Germany into the war — something Berlin explicitly denied. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said any US tanks sent to Ukraine would “burn like all the rest”. Moscow says supplies of modern offensive weaponry to Ukraine will prolong the war and postpone what it says will be its inevitable victory.
Moscow court shuts down country’s oldest rights group
A court in Moscow on Wednesday ruled to shut down Russia’s oldest human rights organisation, in the latest move amid a relentless crackdown on independent media. The Moscow City Court sustained the petition of Russia’s Justice Ministry to close the Moscow Helsinki Group.
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