The Hamilton Spectator
EU members pledge 100 tanks for Kyiv
Officials expect Russia will launch new offensive as one-year anniversary of conflict nears
Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands announced Tuesday that they plan to provide Ukraine with at least 100 refurbished Leopard 1 battle tanks, a pledge that comes as Kyiv anticipates a new Russian offensive around the anniversary of its invasion.
The announcement followed Germany agreeing last month to allow deliveries of the more modern German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
In a joint statement, the defence ministers of Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands said the shipment of the older Leopard 1 tanks was part of an effort “to support Ukraine in their endeavour to withstand Russian aggression.”
“(It) will significantly enhance Ukraine’s military potential for the restoration of their violated territorial integrity,” they said, adding that the delivery would occur “within the coming months” and include logistical support and training.
Ukrainian officials say they expect Russian forces to make a new drive in eastern and southern Ukraine, as the Kremlin strives to secure territory it illegally annexed in late September and where it claims its rule is welcomed.
The anticipated Russian push may seek to recapture territory Moscow lost in a late summer counteroffensive. Battlefield setbacks in Ukraine have embarrassed the Kremlin, and Russian President Vladimir Putin is keen to cement public support for the war.
Some Western military analysts were skeptical, however, of Russia’s ability to mount a large new offensive in coming weeks, particularly in time for the Feb. 24 anniversary, that might alter the course of the war. Ukraine and Russia are both still training their new troops and amassing weapons.
News agency dpa quoted Germany’s defence minister, Boris Pistorius, as saying during a visit to Kyiv on Tuesday that the first 20 to 25 Leopard 1 tanks would reach Ukraine this summer.
Pistorius’ office said German authorities have authorized the export of up to 178 Leopard 1 A5 tanks to Ukraine, but noted that the actual number sent would depend on the refurbishments required.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said Moscow was focusing its efforts near the towns of Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Novopavlivka in the eastern Donetsk province, as well as Kupiansk in Kharkiv province.
In the Donetsk region, Russian forces also kept up their shelling of Vuhledar, a mining town that has become one of Moscow’s key targets, the Ukrainian presidential office said.
Germany’s defence minister, Boris Pistorius, said Tuesday that the first 20 to 25 Leopard 1 tanks would reach Ukraine this summer