The Contact Group for Ukraine is meeting in Germany this Friday to discuss the delivery of new weapons to Kyiv
The Contact Group for Ukraine, made up of Kiev’s western allies, is meeting this Friday at the US base in Ramstein, Germany, for a ministerial meeting to call for greater military support from that country against Russia, including the supply of German ones Leopard tank. The meeting was attended by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, as well as their counterparts from Germany, Great Britain and Poland.
The appointment follows Kiev’s call for its allies to “significantly step up” arms sales, including Leopards, expressed in a joint statement by Reznikov along with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Thursday. The text specifically acknowledged Britain’s decision to deploy a Chanllenger 2 tank squadron, but warned that this contribution was “not enough” given Russia’s “significant quantitative advantage in troops, weapons and equipment”.
Kyiv called on the states that have Leopard 2s to join these deliveries, listing Canada, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Turkey, among others.
Kiev’s request comes amid intense pressure from allies like Poland on Berlin to authorize deliveries of the Leopard to allies who have this type of tank – they need Berlin’s permission as these main battle tanks are made in Germany.
President Volodimir Zelenski himself insisted on his demand in an ARD interview last night: “You can talk about it for another six months, but in my country people are dying every day,” said the Ukrainian head of state. “If you have leopards, give them to us,” Zelenskyy demanded, in order to reject the German government’s argument that a decision would not be made alone, but in consensus with its allies: “Leopards will not circulate in the Russian Federation. They’re supposed to defend us,” he said.
Germany has so far refused to authorize the transfer of these active battle tanks to other NATO countries, on the grounds that such a decision can only be made “in coordination” with the allies. It has been suggested in the German media that this veto could be overturned if the United States allowed its Abrams tanks to be shipped, which is complicated as they require more training and support than the Leopards. The Pentagon refused such a shipment last night, in part because the Abrams need jet fuel, which Ukraine doesn’t have.
The question is occupying the new German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, who took office on Thursday and yesterday had a first meeting with his US counterpart Austin. Pressure from Ukraine was compounded yesterday by demands made at an earlier meeting in Estonia between ministers or senior defense officials from 10 NATO countries who advocated shipping heavier weapons, including tanks, to Kyiv. The meeting in Ramstein, the largest US military base in Europe, will open at 9:00 a.m. this morning and Austin is scheduled to appear before the media at around 3:30 p.m. (Efe / EL PAÍS)