Kyiv A meeting of the Western Allies in Ramstein, Rhineland-Palatinate, is being eagerly awaited this Friday around the world – but especially in the Ukraine. The focus is on the question of whether Germany agrees to the delivery of battle tanks there.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy once again urged the German government to finally support his country, which Russia attacked almost eleven months ago, with modern Leopard tanks.
The new Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, meanwhile, remained on the rather cautious line before the meeting. From the USA it was said that the delivery of American Abrams main battle tanks is currently not sensible – but Germany is making a “sovereign decision”.
On Thursday evening (local time), the US Department of Defense in Washington announced extensive arms deliveries of up to 2.5 billion US dollars – but no Abrams.
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Zelensky: Can you deliver leopards? Then give them here!“
In an ARD interview broadcast on Thursday evening, Selenski sharply criticized Germany’s hesitant attitude when it came to possible deliveries of main battle tanks. “You’re grown people. You can talk like that for six months, but people are dying here – every day.” Then he added: “In plain English: Can you deliver leopards or not? Then give them here!“
“It’s not like we attack if someone is worried,” said Selenski. “These leopards will not drive through Russia. We are defending ourselves.” At the same time, with regard to military aid that has already been provided, he emphasized: “We are grateful. I want everyone to hear this: we are grateful to Germany.”
US pledges more billions in military aid to Ukraine
Shortly before the Ramstein meeting, the US government announced further billions in military aid for Ukraine. The Pentagon published a list of extensive arms deliveries on Thursday evening (local time).
The package includes, among other things, 59 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and, for the first time, 90 Stryker wheeled infantry fighting vehicles – but no Abrams main battle tanks. It is the second largest single package of its kind to date.
According to the ministry, the delivery of American Abrams main battle tanks does not currently make sense. The Abrams requires different fuel than the Leopard 2 or Challenger 2 main battle tanks and is expensive to maintain, Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said on Thursday.
The Abrams had been discussed after it was reported that Chancellor Olaf Scholz had made the delivery of the US main battle tank a condition for a possible dispatch of German main battle tanks.
With the new package, the US has provided or pledged more than $27.4 billion in military assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of President Joe Biden’s administration, according to the US Department of Defense, more than $26.7 billion of which since the start of the Russian war of aggression at the end of February.
Pistorius: No tie-in for supply of US and Leopard tanks
Federal Defense Minister Pistorius had previously stated that the delivery of US Abrams-type battle tanks to Ukraine was not a condition for the possible dispatch of German battle tanks: “I am not aware of such a linkage,” said the SPD politician in an ARD “Focal point “.
When asked if Germany would supply main battle tanks without the US, Pistorius said that was an issue Scholz was discussing with US President Joe Biden. “I’m pretty sure we’ll get a decision on that in the next few days. I can’t tell you today what that will look like.”
Asked whether Germany would give the green light to other countries to export German-made Leopard tanks at the Ramstein conference of western Ukraine supporters on Friday, Pistorius said: “That will become clear in the next few hours or tomorrow morning. “
Britain wants to deliver 600 more missiles to Ukraine
Britain, in turn, wants to send 600 more Brimstone-type missiles to Ukraine to support the country in its fight against Russia. This was announced by Defense Minister Ben Wallace at the Estonian military base in Tapa. He did not initially provide any further information on the time of delivery.
Wallace took part in a meeting of defense ministers from several European countries in Tapa, which had been initiated by his Estonian colleague Hanno Pevkur and himself.
At the meeting at the military base, some 150 kilometers from the Russian border, the participants adopted a joint statement on military aid to Ukraine; in addition to Wallace, other ministers also presented further aid for Kyiv.
This is how the Handelsblatt reports on the Ukraine war:
What will be important on Friday
The meeting of defense ministers and senior military officials from numerous countries at Ramstein Air Force Base is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.
The World Economic Forum is also coming to an end in Davos, Switzerland. On the last day, the focus will be on the future path of the Russian economy, among other things.
More: Don’t miss any developments in the Ukraine war – everything new in our news blog