Nato allies pledge more arms for Ukraine, Germany holds out on tanks

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Nato allies pledge more arms for Ukraine, Germany holds out on tanks

Nato allies pledge more arms for Ukraine, Germany holds out on tanks

FRIDAY, JANUARY 20, 2023

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Thursday said he was “expecting strong decisions” when dozens of defence ministers meet at an airbase in Germany on Friday.

“We are expecting a powerful military aid package from the US,” he said in his nightly video address.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and defence leaders from roughly 50 countries will confer at Ramstein Air Base, the latest in a series of meetings since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly 11 months ago.

The focus is expected to be not on what the United States will provide, but on whether Germany will send its Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine or at least approve their transfer from third countries.

Polish PM ‘pessimistic’ about German permission for Leopard tank transfer to Ukraine

Poland’s prime minister said on Thursday he was “moderately pessimistic” about Germany giving other countries permission to re-export Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

“I am moderately sceptical, moderately pessimistic because the Germans are defending themselves against this like a devil protects himself against holy water”, Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters.

Fearing winter will give Russian forces time to regroup and unleash a major attack, Ukraine is pushing for the Leopard battle tanks, which are held by an array of Nato nations but whose transfer to Ukraine requires Germany’s approval.

A German government source said Berlin would lift its objections if Washington sends its own Abrams tanks.

Poland and Finland have already said they would send Leopards if Germany lifts its veto. In a sign of mounting frustration, Poland suggested it might do so even if Germany tries to block it.

Fear of nuclear war is the reason for Scholz’s hesitancy to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine – analyst

Enormous fear of a nuclear war is the reason why German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has so far blocked allies from sending its Leopard 2 tanks, a military analyst and former Austrian defence ministry official Gustav Gressel said on Thursday.

Speaking to Reuters in Berlin, Gressel said “the chancellery” believed it was the “prime target. I don’t know how this strange perception came about.”

“I have a bit of an impression that Scholz has lost sight of the fact that Germany is actually a part of the Nato alliance. He’s mentally not Westbound,” said Gressel who served five years in the Austrian Armed Forces.

Washington and many Western allies say the Leopards – which Germany made in the thousands during the Cold War and exported to its allies – are the only suitable option available in big enough numbers.

A German government source said Berlin would lift its objections if Washington sends its own Abrams tanks. But US officials say they have no plans yet to send the Abrams, which runs on powerful turbine engines seen as using too much fuel for Kyiv’s strained logistics system to supply at the front.

Tanks important for Ukraine to match enemy, Nato military chief says

A senior Nato military commander said on Thursday that tanks were important for Ukraine to be a match for Russia, amid protracted discussions among Western allies over whether to supply German-made tanks to Kyiv.

“I think in terms of matching what the enemy has it is important for the Ukrainians,” the head of the Nato Military Committee Admiral Rob Bauer told reporters after a two-day meeting in Brussels.

Fearing winter will give Russia time to regroup and launch a major attack, Ukraine is pushing for Leopard battle tanks.

Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Christopher Cavoli, said that Western technology was outperforming Russian technology in the war but cautioned that tanks alone were not the solution.

“It’s not just tank on tank, it’s the whole system, it’s the supplies, it’s the logistics system, it’s the maintenance system, it’s the target-finding capability and all of that comes together. So the complex of an army is much more important than any one of its individual parts,” he said.

Netherlands finalising Patriot system plan for Ukraine, to announce more support

The Netherlands is finalising plans to provide Patriot air missile defence systems to Ukraine with Germany and the United States and will announce further military support to Kyiv on Friday, Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren said on Thursday.

Dozens of Ukraine’s allies meet on Friday at a US army base in Ramstein, Germany, with billions of dollars in new weapons to be pledged.

“We are joining the United States, and Germany in their project to provide Patriots to Ukraine,” Ollongren told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We are working out details and will provide details in Ramstein.”

When asked whether that meant the Netherlands would provide spare parts, missiles or the system, she said the details were still being debated.

“What they need right now in this phase of the war is weapons to push the Russians back from the invaded parts of the country and more air defence because these attacks are still going on,” she said, adding that the Netherlands would make announcements tomorrow.

A major question mark remains on whether German-made Leopard battle tanks, which are held by an array of Nato nations, but whose transfer to Ukraine requires Germany’s approval, will be on the table tomorrow. Germany has so far held back.

Ollongren said she was confident a solution would be found for supplying modern battle tanks, but that the Netherlands, which leases Leopard 2 tanks from Germany, would need a green light from Berlin before deciding whether to contribute.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned Nato on Thursday that a defeat of Russia in Ukraine could trigger a nuclear war.

“I’m not that much concerned about nuclear escalation. I think that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and the Russian leadership knows that if you go there, you accept the possibility of total destruction and I don’t think that’s a risk they want to take,” Ollongren said.

Estonia to send $122 mln arms package to Ukraine

Estonia will send military equipment to Ukraine worth some 113 million euros ($122 million) in its latest package of support for the war against Russia, the Baltic country’s defence minister said on Thursday (January 19).

“What Ukrainians need most is heavy weaponry”, Estonian Defence Minister Hanno Pevkur told a joint news conference with his British counterpart and others.

Estonia, Britain and nine other countries pledged a raft of new military aid for Ukraine, in a joint statement signed by Pevkur, British defence Secretary Ben Wallace and others on Thursday ahead of a crunch meeting on arms for Kyiv scheduled to take place in Germany on Friday.

Fearing winter will give Russian forces time to regroup and unleash a major attack, Ukraine is pushing for German-made Leopard battle tanks, which are held by an array of Nato nations but whose transfer to Ukraine requires Germany’s approval.

Lithuanian defence minister Arvydas Anusauskas said he supported a British offer of a squadron from its fleet of Challenger tanks and said he hoped other nations would follow suit, without naming any country directly.

Poland and Finland have already said they would send Leopards if Germany lifts its veto. In a sign of mounting frustration, Poland suggested it might do so even if Germany tries to block it.

Sweden to send Archer artillery system to Ukraine

The Swedish government announced a new package of military aid to Ukraine on Thursday (January 19) that will include armoured infantry fighting vehicles and the Archer artillery system.

The package is worth 4.3 billion Swedish crowns ($419 million) and will also include light, portable NLAW anti-tank weapons, mine-clearing equipment and assault rifles.

Sweden will send about 50 of its tracked and armoured Type 90 infantry fighting vehicles. It can be used to transport up to eight infantry soldiers and is equipped with a 40-millimetre automatic canon.

The government did not specify how many Archer systems it would supply.

Sweden has 48 Archer systems, which is a vehicle-mounted self-propelled gun-howitzer made by Bofors BAE that Ukraine has long expressed an interest in adding to its arsenal as it seeks to repel Russian forces.

Ahead of the package presented on Thursday, Sweden had announced around 5 billion Swedish crowns of military aid to Ukraine as well as several instalments of humanitarian supplies.

Hundreds more Canada-made armoured vehicles to arrive in Ukraine by summer

A Canadian company supplying battle-ready armoured vehicles to Ukraine plans to deliver the 200 vehicles Ottawa promised to Kyiv before summer, the firm’s Chief Executive Officer Roman Shimonov said on Thursday.

Ontario-based Roshel Inc builds armoured vehicles for government and commercial organizations, including the US State Department and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa).

Its Roshel Senator armoured personnel carriers, built on Ford Motor Co’s F.N F-550 large pickup truck chassis with ballistic steel and fitted with mine-protection seats and other safety features, have been used by Ukrainian soldiers in their defence against the Russian invasion that began last February.

“Ukraine right now is in full-scale war … and they have to have a way to transport their personnel safely, and our vehicle provides them with this solution,” Shimonov said.

The Senators can be used as a medical evacuation vehicle or as a tactical combat vehicle, he said.

The company has established a “sophisticated” secure supply chain and has been shipping a few armoured vehicles every day, Shimonov said in an interview at Roshel’s assembly plant in Mississauga.

Canada has provided Ukraine with billions of dollars in aid, including over C$1 billion in military supplies. Shimonov declined to share details but said Ottawa’s order of 200 armoured vehicles for Ukraine is expected to be delivered by summer. 

Reuters

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