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

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