Zelensky continues to fight for Leopard tanks
Kyiv/Washington After the Ukraine conference in Ramstein, Germany, President Volodymyr Zelensky wants to continue fighting in Kyiv for the rapid delivery of German Leopard 2 tanks to his country. During the talks he heard a lot of understanding for the needs of Ukraine attacked by Russia, said Zelenskiy. “Yes, we will still have to fight for the supply of modern tanks, but every day we make it more obvious that there is no alternative to choosing tanks.”
At the conference at the US Air Force base on Friday, no decision was made on the delivery of main battle tanks, because Germany continues to hesitate. Nevertheless, in his video message distributed every evening in Kyiv, Zelensky was optimistic that he would receive the tanks.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov also said after meeting his new German colleague Boris Pistorius that talks on the Leopards 2 would continue. He thanked the German government and the people for the military aid. According to Reznikov, the media in Kyiv reported that a number of states had agreed to start training Ukrainian soldiers on Leopard 2 tanks. In particular, he thanked Poland for the initiative.
Zelensky said longer-range missiles are also needed to liberate Ukrainian areas. Not everything that was talked about in Ramstein was intended for the public, said Selenski. The bottom line, however, is a strengthening of Ukrainian resistance to Russian aggression.
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Disappointment after the lack of a main battle tank decision
Politicians from the traffic light coalition and opposition have expressed their disappointment at the further postponed decision on the delivery of German battle tanks to Ukraine. The chairwoman of the defense committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann (FPD), said on Friday evening in the ZDF “heute journal”: “At least a signal would have been correct to give the partners the green light.”
“History is looking at us, and unfortunately Germany just failed,” complained Strack-Zimmermann. The Union now fears serious foreign policy damage. “Germany has done Ukraine and itself a disservice for the future position,” said the CDU foreign policy expert Roderich Kiesewetter.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has praised Germany as a reliable partner despite hesitations about supplying Ukraine with Leopard 2 main battle tanks. “Yes, you are a reliable ally. They have been for a very, very long time,” Austin said Friday in Ramstein after the Ukraine Contact Group meeting.
Despite considerable pressure from Ukraine and allied states, the federal government has not yet made a decision on the delivery of the tanks. Ukraine first officially asked Germany for the main battle tanks on March 3, 2022 – a good week after the Russian attack – and then repeated this request over and over again. As a production country, Germany plays a key role in the issue. A transfer to the Ukraine by other countries must be approved by the federal government.
The US government emphasized that each country makes sovereign decisions regarding the supply of weapons. “We don’t push anyone, and we don’t let anyone push us,” National Security Council communications director John Kirby said in Washington on Friday.
Austin stressed that Ukraine’s military success does not depend on a single weapon system. The Ukrainians had received a package with large military capabilities – including armored personnel carriers from the United States and other countries. If used properly, these tools could lead to success.
US wants to declare Russian mercenaries a criminal organization
The US government also announced that it would declare Wagner, a Russian private army fighting alongside Kremlin troops in Ukraine, a transnational criminal organization. The classification allows the United States and other countries to restrict the international business of the mercenary group and its worldwide network of supporters, Kirby said.
The US government will impose specific sanctions on the Wagner Group next week. Kirby has not yet given details of the sanctions. Wagner is a criminal organization responsible for atrocities and human rights abuses in Ukraine and around the world.
The group is owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close confidante of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Around 50,000 fighters are currently deployed in the ranks of the private army in Ukraine, Kirby said. Among them are 10,000 mercenaries and 40,000 prisoners who Prigozhin had recruited from Russian prisons. In response to the announced sanctions, the Wagner boss accused the United States of being criminals itself. Now Wagner and the USA are colleagues, they would therefore fight against each other like “criminal clans”, said Prigozhin.
This is how the Handelsblatt reports on the Ukraine war:
What will be important on Saturday
Ukraine wants to continue to put pressure on Germany to deliver battle tanks. Russian troops, on the other hand, are continuing their attacks in the Donetsk and Zaporizhia regions in order to occupy the parts of the territories controlled by Ukraine. According to their own statements, the Russian troops had recently spoken of conquests there for the first time since the summer and after many defeats.
More: Do not miss any developments in the Ukraine war – everything new in our news blog