Pressure is mounting on Germany to permit the export of its main battle tank to Ukraine in order to help Kyiv’s forces seize the initiative on the battlefield in eastern Ukraine and better defend against Russian aerial attacks.
Ukraine has intensified its requests for more sophisticated weapons during what may prove to be a crucial week in international relations.
The refusal of the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, to permit other nations to sell German-made Leopards has become untenable as a result of Britain’s statement that it will transfer 14 of its Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, a senior NATO source stated.
By giving Ukraine new tanks, the British have made it clear that they want to inspire other Western nations to do the same.
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and his wife, Olena Zelenska, as well as Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko, are exerting additional pressure at this week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, calling for more and better Western heavy weapons, such as tanks and air defences.
Concerns about the limited time available to prepare for a potential Russian invasion in the spring are mounting among Ukraine and its supporters.
Since September, when Ukraine reclaimed substantial portions of its territory in the north and east, Russia has suffered a string of setbacks.
Russia’s response came when fighting on the eastern front stalled and it began to strike infrastructure and civilians.
The dispute over German tanks is likely to be settled by the end of the week at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where a conference of NATO defence ministers will be followed by a meeting of defence ministers from nations that support Ukraine.
Both NATO and the gathering at Ramstein are anticipated to discuss the supply of Western tanks to Ukraine under the direction of the American defence secretary, Lloyd J. Austin III.
It will take time to deliver the tanks, train the Ukrainians to operate and maintain them, and set up a reliable supply chain for spare parts, warn Western military officials.