U.S., Germany poised to send tanks to Ukraine, answering Kyiv’s pleas

  • Ukraine says the tanks will be a “punch” for democracy
  • Kyiv predicts that Russia will try again for Bakhmut
  • Ukraine cleans up the leadership in the fight against corruption

BERLIN/KYIV, Jan 25 (Reuters) – The United States and Germany are ready to help Kyiv’s war effort by delivering heavy battle tanks to Ukraine, sources said, in a move Moscow condemned as “clear provocation.”

Washington was expected to announce as soon as Wednesday that it would send M1 Abrams tanks, the sources said, and that Berlin had decided to send Leopard 2 tanks, a policy shift that Kyiv said would help reshape the conflict. slow

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy once again pressed Western allies to provide their most modern battle tanks, saying in a video speech overnight that “negotiations must end with a decision.”

Germany and the United States have so far refrained from providing heavy weapons, wary of actions that could give the Kremlin a reason to escalate the conflict.

Moscow has warned that sending modern offensive weapons to Ukraine will escalate the war, and some Russian officials have warned that Kyiv’s allies are pushing the world toward a “global catastrophe.” Moscow has now repeatedly said that it is fighting a collective West in Ukraine.

Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, said on Wednesday that Washington’s possible delivery of battle tanks to Ukraine would be “another open provocation” against Russia.

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Antonov said in a statement published on the US Embassy’s Telegram messaging application: “It is obvious that Washington is purposefully trying to impose a strategic defeat on us.”

Washington is ready to begin a process to eventually send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, two US officials told Reuters on Tuesday, just days after rejecting requests from Kyiv.

A third official said the U.S. commitment could total about 30 tanks delivered in the coming months.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Schulz had decided to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and allow other countries, such as Poland, to do the same, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Der Spiegel magazine, which first reported the news, said Germany was planning to supply at least one Leopard 2 A6 tank company, which would normally include 14 tanks. The magazine reported that other allies, for example in Scandinavia, plan to join Germany in supplying Kyiv with Leopard tanks.

While there was no official confirmation from Berlin or Washington, Kyiv officials welcomed what they said was a potential battlefield game-changer in a war now 11 months old – even though the rumored number of tanks Less than the hundreds of tanks they say they need. To liberate all occupied areas

“Several hundred tanks for our tank crews… this is what will become a real fist of democracy,” Zelensky’s head of government Andriy Yermak wrote in a telegram.

Frozen front lines

The front lines in the war, which stretch more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) across eastern and southern Ukraine, have been largely frozen for two months despite heavy casualties on both sides. Russia and Ukraine are widely believed to be planning new attacks.

Zelensky said Tuesday night that Russia was stepping up its push toward Bakhmut, an industrial city in eastern Ukraine that has been the center of intense fighting. “They want to increase the pressure on a larger scale,” he said.

Whether to supply Ukraine with significant numbers of modern heavy battle tanks has dominated debate among Kyiv’s Western allies in recent days.

Berlin has been crucial because the German-made Panthers, fielded by some 20 armies around the world, are considered the best option. Tanks are available in large numbers and are easy to deploy and maintain.

While the U.S. Abrams tank is considered less suitable due to its heavy fuel consumption and difficulty in maintaining it, the U.S. move to send them to Ukraine could make it difficult for Germany, which wants a united front among Ukraine’s allies, to Let this resource make it easy. from leopards

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Russian President Vladimir Putin describes the “special military operation” that began with his forces’ invasion of Ukraine on February 24 last year as a defensive and existential battle against an aggressive and arrogant West.

Ukraine and the West call Russia’s actions an unjustified usurpation to surrender the former Soviet republic, which Moscow considers an artificial state.

Purification of leadership

Separately on Tuesday, Ukraine sacked more than a dozen senior officials as part of an anti-corruption drive made all the more important by the need to keep its Western backers on board.

The EU, which last June offered Ukraine candidate status, welcomed the development.

Among the Ukrainian officials who resigned or were dismissed were the governors of Kyiv, Sumy, Dnipropetrovsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, the last three provinces. Kyiv and Sumi were the main battlefields at the beginning of the war.

Some, though not all, of the officials who left were linked to corruption allegations.

Ukraine has a history of corruption and shaky governance, and is under international pressure to show it can be a reliable steward of billions of dollars in Western aid.

Report of Reuters offices; By Cynthia Osterman and Steven Coates. Edited by Himani Sarkar

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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