US calls for more military aid to Ukraine in Ramstein

Boris Pistorius speaks to journalists in Ramstein

The Federal Minister of Defense comments on the talks at the US Air Base.

(Photo: Reuters)

Berlin Ramstein The federal government has dampened expectations that a decision on German main battle tank deliveries to Ukraine could be made today. The ongoing meeting of the Ukraine contact group in Ramstein is an important “marker”, said government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit on Friday at the federal press conference. But there is also a continuous coordination process with the allies.

The new Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) said on the sidelines of the meeting in Ramstein that there was “no unified opinion” on the delivery of battle tanks. However, he had given the ministry the order to check the availability and number of Leopard tanks. “We are preparing for the worst-case scenario.”

At the opening of the meeting of around 50 countries supporting Ukraine, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced new arms deliveries from the Americans worth 2.5 billion dollars. However, no main battle tanks are included in the package.

Two days ago, various media reported that Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) only wanted to deliver Leopard tanks to Ukraine if the US government provided Abrams main battle tanks. So far, the US government has not been willing to do this.

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Federal Defense Minister Pistorius rejected the statement that the federal government gave this condition on Thursday evening. “I don’t know of such a connection,” said the SPD politician on ARD. Also Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit emphasized on Friday that there was “at no point in time” an agreement. However, the federal government maintains that there is “close international coordination” for all arms deliveries, especially with the USA.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov in Ramstein

Rather, it is time to step up military aid, Austin said, speaking of a pivotal moment for Ukraine.

(Photo: AP)

Countries such as Great Britain, Poland and Finland have declared their intention to supply Challenger and Leopard main battle tanks. Since the Leopard tanks come from German production, the federal government would have to agree to a transfer. The government in Warsaw had made it clear that, if necessary, they would also deliver without waiting for the necessary approval from Berlin.

Read here: “Pretty sure” that decision on Leopard issue will be made soon – The US will deliver around 150 armored personnel carriers to Ukraine

Hebestreit explained that he had no information that the Polish government had already submitted an application for the tanks to be transferred. And he assumes that the government in Warsaw also attaches importance to rule-based dealings with one another: “All of our partners certainly want to behave in accordance with the law,” he said of the possibility of passing on Leopard tanks without permission.

US calls for more support for Ukraine: “We have to step it up”

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Economic Affairs declined to comment on Friday whether there are already applications from the industry to supply tanks to Ukraine. The Handelsblatt had reported that the Rheinmetall group could deliver a good 100 main battle tanks within 20 months. The spokeswoman only said that the government is in close contact with the industry and is examining all procurement options.

>> Read here: German industry offers more than 100 main battle tanks for Ukraine

At the start of the Ramstein meeting, US Secretary of Defense Austin warned the Western Allies not to let up in their support for Ukraine: “This is not the moment to sit back.” Rather, it is time to step up military aid, said Austin and spoke of a crucial moment for Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addressed the contact group directly in a video message for the first time. He called on the supporting states to continue supplying arms, including battle tanks. “We have to act quickly,” said Selenski. “The Kremlin has to lose.” Zelensky thanked the assembled representatives of Western countries for their support to date. “We are seeing the results on the battlefield in Ukraine.”

But the defenders of freedom were slowly running out of weapons. In Ramstein, concrete decisions would have to be made about the delivery of aircraft, missiles and long-range artillery, for example, in order to be able to end Russian terror.

Austin referred to the new US aid package for the Ukrainian armed forces, which also includes the delivery of 59 Bradley armored personnel carriers and 90 more Stryker armored personnel carriers. US aid to Ukraine totaled $26.7 billion, Austin said.

With agency material.

More: Boris Pistorius has no time to settle in on the first day in office

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