Ukraine is getting the tanks it boosted after the break in the West

Ukraine is ready to receive battle tanks from Germany and other Western countries after a fierce debate exposed fissures between their allies ahead of an anticipated Russian spring offensive.

The German government said on Wednesday it would quickly provide 14 Leopard 2 tanks as a “first step” and would allow other European nations to send their own Leopard tanks soon. Training of Ukrainian soldiers in its use will begin quickly, Germany said, along with the provision of maintenance and ammunition.

“This decision follows our well-known line of supporting Ukraine to the best of our ability. We are acting in a closely coordinated manner at the international level,” Foreign Minister Olaf Scholz said in a statement. The news comes after US officials told NBC News on Tuesday that President Joe Biden was preparing to send dozens of US Abrams tanks to Ukraine, in a sea change.

It follows an official request from the Polish government on Tuesday asking Germany to approve plans to send Leopard 2 tanks to the battlefield, the culmination of a week-long pressure campaign on Europe’s leading power to do more to support the cause. of Ukraine at a key moment in the 11-Month War.

Germany, which makes the heavy tanks, must grant permission for the weapons to be shipped to a non-NATO country. Ukrainian military leaders have said they need hundreds of tanks to break through Russian defenses.

‘Freedom for the leopards’

Germany has provided billions in humanitarian and military aid since the start of the war, but Scholz has generally maintained a cautious approach rooted in his country’s history and political culture. That has drawn criticism from Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic nations, which have long called for a stronger response to combat Russia’s expansionist goals.

Thousands of protesters have gathered outside Parliament in Berlin, while the Ukrainian government has promoted a social media campaign calling on Germany to “release the leopards”.

Some had even coined the term “Scholzing,” which historian and commentator Timothy Garton Ash definite as “communicating good intentions, only to use/find/invent any conceivable reason to delay and/or prevent them from happening”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been calling for increased firepower since before the invasion of Russia last February.

He and his advisers have made it clear that the hardware offered by the country’s allies will not be enough to retake its territory, especially as both sides prepare for what many expect to be a crucial period of intense fighting once the winter ends.

“We need tanks, not 10-20, but several hundred,” Zelenskyy’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak said on his Telegram channel on Monday.

“In order for us to defeat the Russian Federation, we absolutely need tanks,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said in an interview last week. “The fact is that the question of which weapon is needed is determined by the military. It is the military that insists that tanks and heavy artillery are crucial today.”

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