Ukraine has welcomed the announced deliveries of Western-style heavy battle tanks in the fight against the Russian invaders and at the same time has called for additional weapon systems. In his daily video address, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked both Chancellor Olaf Scholz and US President Joe Biden for their decision. "I thank all our allies for their willingness to provide us with modern and much-needed tanks." He added that what his country needs most now is long-range missiles, fighter jets and more artillery.
The federal government promised Ukraine 14 Leopard 2 tanks from Bundeswehr stocks on Wednesday. Other countries such as the USA now also want to supply battle tanks to Kyiv.
Zelenskyj: Now form a "Fist of Tanks"
"A fist of tanks" must now be formed, said Zelenskyj. "A fist of liberty that will not allow tyranny to rise again." The key to this, however, now lies in the speed with which Ukrainian tank crews are trained and the delivery of tanks to Ukraine. The quantity of tanks to be delivered is also decisive.
However, progress is also needed on other military issues, Zelensky said. Above all, his country now needs long-range missiles, combat aircraft and more artillery. "It's a dream, it's a task," he said. "An important task for all of us," he said, setting the course for future negotiations on further support for Ukraine. "The terrorist state (Russia) must lose."
Another air alert in Ukraine
Air raid alarms have been raised again in large parts of Ukraine. According to media reports, explosions could be heard in Zaporizhia and Dnipropetrovsk - possibly due to the use of air defense systems. The regional military administrator Vitali Kim wrote on Telegram that there are new waves of Russian combat drones made in Iran. "The little crooks just couldn't do anything else for the birthday of the best president (Zelenskyj)," he wrote. Selenskyj celebrated his 45th birthday on Wednesday.
Scholz: Germany with Leopard delivery not a war party
According to Chancellor Scholz, Germany has not become a party to the war even with the delivery of Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine. "No, absolutely not," said the SPD politician on the ZDF program "What now, Mr. Scholz" when asked. Scholz described the deliveries as a clear sign of solidarity with Ukraine and also as a clear message to Russian President Vladimir Putin that his "imperialist war" would not be successful. At the same time, one must always be careful not to become a party to the war. "There must be no war between Russia and NATO," emphasized Scholz. He will do anything for that.
USA: Battle tank decision was discussed for weeks
The US government justified its change of heart in supplying main battle tanks to Ukraine. "We've never ruled out tanks," said National Security Council communications director John Kirby. Conditions on the battlefield in Ukraine have changed. "These tanks are designed to help Ukraine fight effectively in open terrain to defend its sovereignty and territory, and to retake areas captured by the Russians." The US government initially wants to deliver 31 Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine.
The USA is considered Ukraine's most important ally in the defense against the Russian invasion and also supplies, for example, multiple rocket launchers of the Himar type. The Pentagon said the latest package was worth $400 million. According to this, the US has pledged military support to Ukraine totaling more than 27.1 billion US dollars (almost 25 billion euros) since the beginning of the war.
US government: No signs of attack on NATO territory
According to the US government, there are no indications of an imminent Russian attack on the territory of the NATO defense alliance. "All I can tell you is that we have seen absolutely no indication that Mr. Putin has any intentions to attack NATO territory," said National Security Council communications director John Kirby. Kirby answered a journalist's question as to how Putin could react to the promised battle tank deliveries to Ukraine - also with a view to NATO countries such as Poland.
EU Council President welcomes German tank decision
EU Council President Charles Michel welcomed the planned delivery of German Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. "I thank the federal government for creating clarity and making this decision," Michel said in an interview with journalists in Argentina, quoted by local media. "I think we have to support Ukraine because Ukrainians are fighting for their future, but also for democratic values."
What will be important on Thursday
After the breakthrough in the months-long debate about deliveries of main battle tanks to Ukraine, the details are now at stake. New tank offers are expected from Western countries that use Leopard main battle tanks in their armed forces.