On his 45th birthday, President Zelenskyi receives the most welcome gift: Dozens of western tanks to strengthen Kiev’s position on the ground, at the gates of the second year of the war and amid fears of a Russian spring offensive. Even if it will take months to make them available to the Ukrainian armed forces. According to media rumours, Chancellor Olaf Scholz has received official OK to send 14 Leopard 2s to Ukraine, a green light for other countries to supply German-made tanks – most notably Poland – and a promise to train Ukrainians for their deployment in Germany. A few hours later, Washington announced the delivery of 31 Abrams tanks, completing the Euro-American tandem of heavy arms in Ukraine’s favor.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is demanding long-range missiles and warplanes from western allies for the war in Ukraine after Washington and Berlin began sending tanks to Kyiv. “I spoke to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg today. We need to open the supply of long-range missiles to Ukraine, this is important: we also need to expand our cooperation in artillery” and “allow” to supply aircraft for Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said in his daily speech, reported by Ukrinform.
STATEMENT BY JOE BIDEN
“They are the strongest tanks in the worldOr,” Biden underscored after having “a long conversation” with Scholz, French President Macron, British Prime Minister Sunak and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni representing Italy, whom the American leader thanked for sending the artillery to Kyiv. “We are united in supporting Ukraine,” the White House chief declared, assuring that Germany had not “forced him to change his mind” about sending the Abrams, which were not “an offensive against Russia,” he then stressed clear up.
Moscow, which has condemned the West’s move, has a very different idea: Abrams in Ukraine “will burn just like other” tanks, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, while Russia’s ambassador to Germany described Scholz’s decision as “highly dangerous”. Rather, the starting signal for the leopards was “a historic decision,” said Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius. Stressing how Berlin’s election was due to “an internationally coordinated and agreed action”, the Chancellor reiterated his support for Kyiv but also the need to avoid “an escalation leading to a NATO-Russia clash”. According to Spiegel, the European allies are ready to deliver 80 Leopard 2s to Ukraine to form two 40-vehicle battalions. Twelve countries that would have agreed to supply German tanks, including certainly Poland and Norway. The Leopards are then joined by London’s promised 14 challengers and now the American Abrams, who according to Zelensky are “an important step towards victory” from Kyiv, who thanked Scholz and Biden but urged them to hurry. If on the one hand Ukraine is jubilant, on the other hand the numbers and delivery times are worrying, “crucial” details for the Ukrainian president.
Pistorius said it will be “at least three months” before the Berlin Leopards arrive in Ukraine. While the US Abrams will have to be produced even from scratch, and even here “it will take months,” according to US officials. Training of Ukrainian armed forces on American tanks will “start soon,” Biden also said, but warned that the tanks are very complex and “it will take time.” So Kyiv will have to wait. But meanwhile, after the tanks were collected, the Ukrainian government immediately started again with the requests: “Now we also need F16, F35, Eurofighter, Tornados and warships”, Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Melnyk restarted and in this case received the from Scholz dry no.
Germany and NATO will not send any fighters or soldiers. In fact, western tanks are enough to raise tensions with Moscow. And Kyiv also considered adding fuel to the fire, with intelligence agencies upping the ante by pointing out that the Kremlin is within range of Ukrainian military assets and that is why Moscow had started deploying air defense systems in the capital. The astute adviser to the Ukrainian President Mykhailo Podolyak later confirmed that “an internal escalation of the war in Russia is inevitable”. Statements that the Kremlin spokesman interpreted as “confirmation of the correctness” of the decision to start the “military special operation” in Ukraine “to protect us from this danger”. And while Putin promises that Russia will not allow “its historic territories” Donbass to be threatened, the news of the Russian Navy’s maneuvers with the Zircon hypersonic missile is chilling. In short, peace remains a mirage, war continues and people take up arms. NATO Secretary Stoltenberg has asked allies to contribute more than 2% of defense investments, while the Pentagon has announced a six-fold increase in production of 155mm shells, which Ukraine’s armed forces urgently need. The conflict will go on for a long time