War in Ukraine: kyiv awaiting delivery of Leopard tanks, German delays

The Ukrainian president repeated that he was waiting for a “firm decision” from this summit. The countries that militarily support kyiv are holding a meeting this Friday, January 20, at the American base in Ramstein, Germany. The United States, United Kingdom, Sweden and Denmark have promised substantial arms shipments to Ukraine, but no heavy tanks, which the Ukrainian army has been waiting to counter Russian attacks, have yet to deliver.

This meeting is the third in this so-called “Ramstein” format since the beginning of the conflict. Secretary of defense and senior military officials from about fifty countries gathered around US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

No decisions have been made at this stage regarding the delivery of the Leopard tanks to Ukraine

No decision has been made at this stage on the possible delivery of German-made Leopard tanks to Kyiv, which is necessary for Ukraine to repel a Russian invasion, the new German defense minister said on Friday. . The issue was “discussed” at a meeting of Ukraine’s allies in Ramstein, western Germany, but “no decision has been taken yet”, Boris Pistorius told a news conference. “We cannot say today when (a decision will be made) and what the decision on the Leopard tank will be,” he said.

“We have no doubts, we only weigh the pros and cons […] We have a responsibility to carefully consider the consequences for all parties to the conflict”, confirmed Boris Pistorius. The minister stressed that the “impression” that Germany itself was against sending tanks to Kyiv was “wrong”.

Germany is under increasing pressure to agree to deliver German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

While London has already pledged 14 Challenger 2 heavy tanks to Kyiv, Poland has also said it is ready to deliver 14 German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks, if Berlin finally agrees to authorize their delivery (any German shipment of war material has to go through Germany). government).

Meanwhile, the United States considers Germany a “reliable ally” despite its reluctance to send tanks to Ukraine, but “we can all do more” to help Kyiv. They are reliable and they have been for a very long time and I sincerely believe that they will continue to be reliable allies into the future,” US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told reporters Friday.

“There is no other solution” other than sending heavy tanks to Kyiv, said Zelensky

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that there was “no other solution” other than for Westerners to send heavy tanks to his country. “Yes, we still have to fight for the supply of modern tanks, but every day we make it clearer and clearer that there is no other solution than taking a decision on tanks,” Volodymyr Zelensky said in his evening video address. “Our partners have a principled attitude – they will support Ukraine as much as is necessary for our victory,” he continued.

Why is Ukraine asking for heavy tanks?

Even with the German tanks, they were far short of the hundreds of vehicles the Ukrainians said they needed to fight the Russian army. “You need German tanks, Finnish tanks, Danish tanks, French tanks, this means that Western Europe itself must now allocate more modern tanks to Ukraine, so that it can defend itself”, pleaded Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. “Against thousands of Russian tanks, the courage of our soldiers and the motivation of the Ukrainian people are not enough,” the Ukrainian president stressed on Thursday. At the Ramstein summit on Friday, he called on allies to “not negotiate about different tank numbers, but roll out massive supplies that will stop evil”.

Experts say the modern Western-designed heavy tanks will be an important advantage for Kyiv in the battle looming in eastern Ukraine, where Russia is back on the offensive after suffering a major setback this winter. But Westerners fear that Kyiv will cause an escalation by using these weapons to strike deep into Russian territory and the air and sea bases of Crimea, a peninsula which was annexed in 2014 by Russia and which Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Wednesday 18 January that he wanted to continue.

US Designates Wagner as International Criminal Organization

The United States has designated the Russian paramilitary group Wagner an international criminal organization, the White House announced on Friday, denouncing its activities in Ukraine.

“Wagner is a criminal organization that committed grave atrocities and human rights abuses,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters, noting that the mercenary group had something to do with it. “50,000” personnel were deployed in Ukraine.

It will be “very difficult to expel” Russian troops by 2023 according to the United States

It will be “very difficult” to expel Russian troops from Ukrainian territory by the end of 2023, the US chief of staff said Friday during a news conference at the US base of Ramstein, Germany.

“From a military point of view, I still think that it will be very difficult to expel Russian troops from all of the occupied territories of Ukraine,” General Mark Milley said after a meeting of allied nations on military support to Kyiv. “That doesn’t mean it can’t happen. But it will be very, very difficult,” he said. It is also very possible for Ukraine to carry out a significant offensive […] to free up as much territory as possible”, added the general. But “it will depend on the delivery of equipment, and training”.

Russia targets America for ‘espionage’

This could be another way for Russia to put pressure on its Ukrainian allies: The FSB has opened an investigation into an American citizen for espionage. The Russian security services made the announcement on Thursday 19 January, amid a diplomatic crisis between Moscow and Washington, which has been overwhelmingly supportive of Ukraine since the start of the war. The FSB did not specify the identity of this American citizen, or whether he had been arrested, or even whether he was in Russia or abroad. “The American is suspected of having collected intelligence relating to biological matters that are contrary to the security of the Russian Federation,” the security service said.

In Washington, the State Department said “it is aware of unconfirmed information about investigations targeting American citizens” while stressing that “in general, Russia has failed to honor its obligations to promptly and promptly notify of any detention of US citizens in Russia.” Several American citizens are currently being held in Russia, which has poisoned relations between Moscow and Washington. Americans and Russians accuse each other of detaining their respective citizens for political purposes. Several prisoner exchanges have taken place in the past.

Seven “Russian agents” were arrested near the Dnipro

The Ukrainian security service (SBU) said on Friday they had arrested “seven Russian agents” in the Dnipro region in eastern Ukraine, the town where a 40-story residential building was demolished days ago – five civilian deaths. Those arrested were suspected of being spies for Moscow. “The SBU conducted another important special operation to uncover and detain enemy agents,” its chairman, Vasyl Maliouk, said in a statement.

According to the SBU, “the detainees provided Russia with the coordinates of Ukraine’s critical infrastructure” and “gathered intelligence on the movement of (kyiv) troop units in the region” before communicating this to the Russian army. “Their possible involvement in the attack on an apartment building on the Dnipro on January 14” is being “verified”, the Ukrainian security service also pointed out.

The agents, according to the SBU, have been operating since October 2022. To communicate with each other, “they use anonymous messengers and transmit the (target) location in the form of electronic coordinates with photographic material”.

First UN humanitarian convoy to Soledar

The Soledar region has been caught in the crossfire of Russian and Ukrainian troops for several weeks, who are fighting over the territory. The United Nations announced on Friday that the first convoy of humanitarian aid had arrived in the vicinity of Soledar. The convoy of three trucks, carrying water, food and basic necessities for around 800 people, is being lowered, Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told a UN press conference in Geneva.

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