Germany approves sending heavy battle tanks to Ukraine

  • Ukraine says tanks are a ‘punching fist’ for democracy
  • Poland submitted a request to Germany to supply tanks to Kiev
  • US may drop opposition to delivery of Abrams tanks
  • Ukrainian officers were deposed in the largest war
  • Kyiv: Zelensky’s actions heed public call for justice

BERLIN/KYIV, Jan 24 (Reuters) – Germany is sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and will allow other countries such as Poland to do the same to fight a Russian invasion, while the United States may offer Abrams tanks, two sources familiar with the matter said. This was reported to Reuters.

Although there was no official confirmation from Berlin or Washington as of late Tuesday, officials in Kyiv were quick to hail what they said was a potential gamechanger on the battlefield in a war now 11 months old.

“A few hundred tanks for our tank crews – the best tank crews in the world. This is going to be a real stabbing fist for democracy,” said Andriy Yermak, head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s administration. , wrote in Telegram.

For months, Kiev has been pleading for Western tanks to break through Russia’s defense lines and recapture occupied territory in the east and south, giving its forces the firepower and mobility to actively deliver.

A German government spokesman and the foreign and defense ministries in Berlin declined to comment.

Der Spiegel newspaper, which first reported the news, said the German decision concerns at least one company of Leopard 2 A6 tanks. A company usually has 14 tanks.

“Today the President has taken a decision that no one takes lightly. The fact that Germany will support Ukraine with the Panther tank is a strong sign of solidarity,” Christian Duer, parliamentary leader of the co-ruling Free Democratic Party (FDP), was quoted as saying. T-online news portal reported.

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The front lines froze

The battle’s front lines, which stretch 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) through eastern and southern Ukraine, have been largely frozen for two months, despite heavy losses on both sides. Russia and Ukraine are widely believed to be planning new attacks.

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

Berlin is important because German-made Panthers, fielded by armies across Europe, are widely seen as the best choice – available in large numbers and easy to deploy and maintain.

They see moves by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats that could provoke Russia to escalate the war and risk dragging the NATO alliance into the conflict.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has described the “special military operation” that began when he invaded Ukraine on February 24 last year as a defensive and existential war against an aggressive and arrogant West.

Ukraine and the West call Russia’s actions an unprovoked land grab to subjugate a fellow former Soviet republic that Moscow views as an artificial state.

Earlier on Tuesday, Poland put pressure on Scholes to make a decision, saying it had sent a formal request to the German government to allow it to send some of its leopards. Defense procurement rules mean Berlin must approve the re-export of the NATO workhorse tank by its allies.

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Two US officials told Reuters that Washington may drop its opposition to the delivery of its M1 Abrams tanks.

Although the Abrams is considered more suitable for Ukraine than the Leopard due to its high fuel consumption and difficulty in maintaining, such a move is designed to ease Germany – which has called for a united front among Ukraine’s allies. Delivery of leopards.

The Pentagon declined to comment on upcoming announcements about Abrams. It also declined to comment on whether Germany would green-light distribution of the Panthers.

Leadership Refinement

Separately on Tuesday, Ukraine fired more than a dozen senior officials, including the governors of several major battleground provinces, further criticizing Zelenskiy’s government’s need to sideline its Western backers as part of an anti-corruption drive.

Ukrainian officials who resigned or were fired on Tuesday included the governors of Kyiv, Sumy, Dnipropetrovsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia regions. Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and nearby Dnipropetrovsk are now leading provinces. Kyiv and Sumy were major battlegrounds before the war.

Others who left included a deputy defense minister, a deputy prosecutor, the deputy head of Zelenskiy’s office and two deputy ministers responsible for regional development.

Some, though not all, are linked to allegations of corruption. Ukraine has a history of patchy and shaky governance, and it is under international pressure to show itself as a credible steward of billions of dollars in Western aid.

Zelenskiy aide Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted: “The president sees and listens to society. And he responds directly to a key public demand – justice for all.”

The purge came two days after a deputy infrastructure minister was arrested and accused of embezzling $400,000 from contracts to buy generators — one of the first major scandals made public since the war began 11 months ago.

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The Defense Ministry said Vyacheslav Shapovalov, the deputy defense minister responsible for supplying troops, had resigned to maintain credibility after he made untrue media allegations of corruption. Following a newspaper report that the ministry had paid too much for food for the troops, the ministry denied it.

Kyrillo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of Zelensky’s office, announced his own resignation without reason. He helped run the president’s 2019 election campaign and recently had a role in overseeing regional policy.

As the shakeup unfolded in a series of announcements, Prime Minister Denis Schmihal told a cabinet meeting that Ukraine was making progress in its anti-corruption campaign. “This is systematic, continuous work, which is very necessary for Ukraine and is an integral part of integration with the European Union,” he said.

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

“As a general rule we do not comment on ongoing criminal investigations, but we welcome the fact that the Ukrainian authorities are taking these issues seriously,” an EU spokesperson said.

Reporting by Reuters Bureaus Writing by Peter Graf and Alex Richardson Editing by Timothy Heritage and Mark Heinrich

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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