Despite holding a summit in Germany, Western countries have failed to agree on a deal to send the much-needed Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
Britain has already agreed to send 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks Germany In cooperation, while Poland has said it is ready to send a large number of its Leopard 2s if Berlin, which holds the export license, agrees.
On Friday, representatives of more than 50 allied countries met at a US airbase in Germany. Ukrainian Defense chiefs expressed hope that the long back-and-forth fighting would finally end.
Kyiv says the tanks will bolster its armed forces’ ability to launch offensive operations against Russian positions.
But the summit at Ramstein Air Base ended without a deal on tanks, despite requests from Kyiv officials.
Ukraine’s Latest War: The West is unable to decide to send tanks to Ukraine.
As the talks concluded, Ukraine’s President Vladimir Zelensky Admits that Kyiv will have to fight to ensure that it has enough heavy weapons.
But he said the Ramstein meeting, which ended with billions of dollars in pledges, would strengthen Ukraine’s resilience.
“Yes, we will still have to fight for the supply of modern tanks, but every day we are making it clear that there is no alternative to the decision on tanks,” he said.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who attended the summit with his Ukrainian and German counterparts, said Ukraine was well equipped even without the Leopard 2.
He announced a $2.5 billion (£2bn) military aid package ahead of Friday’s talks, including Stryker armored personnel carriers and more Bradley fighting vehicles.
German sources have suggested that Berlin may reverse its reluctance to allow Leopard tanks to be sent to Ukraine if the US also sends its Abrams tanks.
Defense chief Boris Pistorius – who took over the job only this week after his predecessor was forced to resign – defended his country’s position and insisted that by allowing the use of the Leopard 2s, Germany was doing “no Ain’t afraid of nothing.”
“We only have a responsibility to our population in Germany and Europe and we have to balance all the pros and cons before we make a decision on things like this,” Mr Pistorius said.
Why does Ukraine want Cheetah 2 tanks?
The Ukrainians have a lot of tanks, but they also have T tanks, especially the T-64 and T-72, which are old and vulnerable to Russian attack. To repel the Russian spring offensive, they need modern battle tanks that are better, faster and more lethal.
The best tank for Ukraine would be the German made Leopard 2. Tanks are classified based on their ability to attack other targets and their resilience to attack.
Cheetah 2 moves faster, has sophisticated targeting and is well protected by armor. It is also, importantly, operated by 14 European countries, so spare parts are widely available.
Britain is sending Challengers – a highly capable tank – but Britain can only spare a dozen of them. Ukraine wants 300 tanks. Experts say that if it gets to 100, it will be enough to make a difference. Read more Here
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleskyi Rezinkov said on Twitter that he had a “frank discussion” with Mr Pistorius on Friday about the delivery of Leopard tanks, adding that talks would continue.
Meanwhile, the top US military officer, General Mark Milley, tried to show unity.
“I think in my 43 years in uniform, this is the most unified NATO I’ve seen,” General Milley declared.
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