Refined restraint instead of unbridled joy: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj has expressed reluctance to reports about the release from Berlin for the delivery of Leopard main battle tanks to his country. He is grateful, but it's not about 15 tanks, the need is much greater, he said in his daily video address. His head of office, Andrij Jermak, was clearly pleased. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba hinted at the next big debate - namely, Ukraine's desire for modern Western-made fighter jets.
According to information from coalition circles, the federal government wants to deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and also allow allies to do so. The Chancellery has not yet commented on this. According to "Spiegel", it is planned to equip at least one company with the Leopard 2A6 version from Bundeswehr stocks. This would require 14 of the weapon systems.
In addition, it became known through US media that the USA now wants to deliver Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine. This was reported by the "New York Times", citing insiders. According to the newspaper, there could be official confirmation as early as this Wednesday. It could be 30 to 50 tanks. Poland had previously announced the delivery of a Leopard company to Kyiv. Finland and other countries are also ready to supply Ukraine with leopards.
Selenskyj sees a high demand for battle tanks
"Many efforts, words, promises," said Zelenskyj on Tuesday evening in his daily video address to the months-long discussion about the delivery of main battle tanks. It is more important to see the reality. "It's not about five or ten or fifteen tanks. The need is greater." Ukraine tries every day to compensate for the lack of heavy battle tanks. "And I thank each and every one of you who support us in this."
The discussions about the delivery of tanks must now lead to decisions, Zelenskyj demanded. "Decisions that really strengthen our defense against the (Russian) terrorists." Ukraine's allies had the required number of tanks. "If we have the necessary weight in decisions, we will be happy to thank you for every single important decision," emphasized Zelenskyy. "We're still working on that."
Joy in Zelenskyj's office about the delivery of main battle tanks
"We will have everything, everything for the reconquest of our territories and for the counteroffensive," wrote Zelenskyy's chancellery chief Andriy Yermak. "Tank drivers will be happy, as will artillerymen and later also pilots." Soon "everything will be Ukraine again".
By referring to pilots, the chancellery chief anticipated a new discussion that Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba had hinted at a few minutes earlier. "Now F-16? Yes! I'll take care of that," he wrote on Facebook of a conversation with an unnamed European colleague. In doing so, he revealed the next step of the Ukrainian leadership, which now also wants to endeavor to deliver combat aircraft in the near future. The Ukrainian military has repeatedly pointed out that it also needs combat aircraft to increase its combat effectiveness.
The former Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, also welcomed the planned delivery to his country - and immediately made further demands for modern fighter jets. "Hallelujah! Jesus Christ!" he tweeted, "And now, dear allies, let's build a strong fighter jet coalition for Ukraine, with F-16s and F-35s, Eurofighters and Tornados, Rafales and Gripen jets - and everything you can deliver to Ukraine." Melnyk is now his country's deputy foreign minister.
What will be important on Wednesday
It is expected that the tank plans of the USA and Germany will become more concrete on Wednesday. It is still unclear which Leopard variant it is and which countries will still deliver. The number of main battle tanks is also still unknown.