the essentials in brief
– Washington praises Berlin
– President Selenskyj thanks for the Leo 1 commitment
– Federal Minister of Economics Habeck put it into perspective
– Poland receives billions in arms package from the USA
– Offensive expected near Kharkiv and Zaporizhia
According to the US government, Germany is a “powerful ally” and “a reliable friend and partner” in supporting Ukraine, which is being attacked by Russia. Berlin’s commitment “is greatly appreciated and should also be acknowledged,” said the communications director of the US government’s National Security Council, John Kirby, to Deutsche Welle in Washington.
For Berlin, the decision to deliver battle tanks was not easy – also because of German history, Kirby emphasized. “I think everyone respects that and understands it.”
At the end of January, after much back and forth and parallel to the German commitment to supply Leopard tanks to Kyiv, the US government also announced that it would supply Ukraine with M1 Abrams main battle tanks.
In the interview, Kirby rejected reports that Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) had pressured US President Joe Biden to deliver the Abrams tanks. “I would disagree with the assertion that the Chancellor’s statements put pressure on the President,” Kirby said when asked. It was a “coordinated announcement” and Washington moved in step with Berlin.
Zelenskyj thanks him
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius for the support from Berlin after his meeting. “I thank Germany and all our partners for their support,” said Zelenskyj in his daily video address on Tuesday evening.
After his meeting with Zelenskyi, Pistorius met his Ukrainian colleague Oleksiy Reznikov and announced the delivery of more than 100 Leopard 1 main battle tanks – in addition to the 14 more modern Leopard 2 models already promised.
Selenskyj had spoken to Pistorius about the current situation in Ukraine. “We are doing everything we can to keep the airspace clear, to ensure that our soldiers have strong tanks and that our artillery is as good as that of the occupiers,” said the president.
Scope of Leopard 1 delivery unclear
Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck hopes that Germany’s pledged further deliveries of tanks will help Ukraine to fend off an expected new wave of Russian attacks. “They are being made available there in large numbers in order to fend off the Russian spring offensive,” said the Vice Chancellor during his visit to the US capital Washington.
His ministry had previously approved the export of up to 178 Leopard 1A5 main battle tanks to Ukraine. “How many Leopard 1A5 main battle tanks will actually be delivered to Ukraine depends on the necessary repair work,” it said. The federal government had already given its general approval for the export last week.
The tanks would now have to be made operational, said Habeck. “In the end, you don’t know exactly how many tanks there will be because some repair work is necessary.” The tanks would be delivered step by step as soon as they were ready for use. A two-digit figure is to be expected in the first quarter, but the end is not exactly foreseeable.
Of course, in retrospect, one could ask oneself whether such decisions could not have been made earlier, the Greens politician admitted. On the other hand, the question is probably pointless because the political and military situation always plays a role. “I hope it was hit just in time and will provide the Ukrainian army with the level of technical support that is sorely needed now in the spring.”
US missile launchers for Poland
The US government has approved the sale of arms worth 10 billion US dollars (9.3 billion euros) to Poland. The package includes 18 Himars multiple rocket launcher systems including ammunition, 45 longer-range ATACMS rockets, and other weapons and military equipment. The sale will expand Poland’s military capabilities while “increasing interoperability with the United States and other allies,” said the US Department of Defense agency responsible for foreign sales (DSCA). Poland will use the rocket launchers to “bolster the homeland’s defenses and ward off regional threats.”
Poland is a US NATO ally and shares a border with Ukraine. Himars rocket launchers played a key role in Ukraine’s fight against the Russian invasion and were used in attacks on supply posts and Russian positions.
The US State Department has already approved the sale. Congress in Washington still has to approve the deal.
Offensive on Kharkiv and Zaporizhia expected
The Ukrainian government assumes that the soon-to-be Russian offensive it expects will affect the Kharkiv regions in the north-east and Zaporizhia in the south. Russia will try to have flagship results around the first anniversary of the war on February 24, head of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov told Reuters.
The already badly damaged city of Kharkiv in north-eastern Ukraine is expecting further Russian attacks
Danilov is skeptical about assumptions by other Ukrainian officials that Moscow could also be planning an attack from the territory of its ally Belarus on north-western Ukraine. It is “doubtful that they will come from that direction” because “there are clearly not enough troops there”.
mak/bru (dpa, afp, rtr)
This article will be continuously updated on the day of its publication. Reports from combat zones cannot be independently verified.