There was a sense of friction behind the unanimous smiles and handshakes at the allies meeting to pledge more weapons to Ukraine.
Kyiv has been asking its Western backers for months to donate hundreds of advanced battle tanks to bolster its armed forces’ offensive capabilities against Russian positions.
The gathering of more than 50 nations at a US air base in Germany on Friday came at a crucial moment to respond to the request.
gave Britain stepped up, Although his hollow army could only save 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks.
Poland said it was. Ready to ship a large number of its German-made Leopard 2 tanks., But Germany itself — the country that holds the key to unlocking the vast arsenal — blinkered.
Willing to give papers on any crack, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, K. Convenor Ukraine The contact group meeting, and their top military officer, General Mark Milley, insisted that the Allies were as united as ever.
“I think in my 43 years in uniform, this is the most unified NATO I’ve seen,” General Milley declared.
But he also stressed the challenge Ukraine faces – and the need to ensure military equipment and training provide the capability needed to conduct complex operations involving a combination of tanks, armored fighting vehicles and artillery.
“It will be very difficult to pull out militarily this year. Russian troops from every inch of Russian-held Ukraine,” General Milli said at a joint press conference at the end of the meeting at the Ramstein base.
“It doesn’t mean it can’t happen, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but it will be very difficult.”
With Russia rearming and training newly mobilized troops, which many Western and Ukrainian officials believe will lead to a new wave of aggression by spring, time is not on Ukraine’s side.
This point was emphasized by President Zelensky, who spoke to the assembled defense ministers via video link.
He said that time is a Russian weapon.
“Time must be our common weapon, exactly air defense and artillery, armored vehicles and tanks.”
But Germany, which in the past has been accused of being too slow to deliver lethal aid to Ukraine, does not want to rush, especially in a week when its defense minister was forced to resign.
A new man, Boris Pistorius, had been appointed in his place just days earlier. And he was left to defend the German position.
“We are not afraid of anything,” Mr Pistorius told reporters, speaking in English. “We only have a responsibility to our population in Germany and in Europe and we have to weigh all the pros and cons before deciding on such matters.” It has to be balanced.”
A decision should come soon, he said – a sign that the tank story still has miles to go.
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