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The West to send Abrams and Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
Repeatedly requested by the Ukrainian president, Western heavy tanks will reach Ukraine in the next few months. The United States and Germany announced on the same day, on Wednesday, that they would send tanks to Ukrainian territories, where the Ukrainian army has been fighting the Russian army for the last 11 months. President Joe Biden made the announcement at the White House:
"And today - today, I'm announcing that the United States will be sending 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, the equivalent of one Ukrainian battalion. Secretary Austin has recommended this step because it will enhance the Ukraine's capacity to defend its territory and achieve its strategic objectives."
Only a few hours before this announcement and after much hesitance, the German government had announced that it would send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and allow other countries to re-export these armoured vehicles to Kyiv. German chancellor Olaf Schoz responded to accusations of delay saying intense consultations were needed with international allies and partners:
"Acting in coordination at international level, we will continue to ensure that this support is possible without the risks to our country to get out of control."
At the time of the announcement, only Poland had officially submitted a request for a re-export permit from Berlin, but Norway, The Netherlands and Spain had expressed their intension to supply such tanks to Ukraine. Germany said it would cover the cost of the Leopard 2 tanks provided to Ukraine. Poland, on the other hand, who said it was ready to supply Ukraine with German-made Leopard 2 tanks from its own stocks, said it would ask the European Union to reimburse it for the costs.
The agreement to send dozens of modern tanks to Ukraine will be crucial, NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg told the BBC. He said the tanks would significantly enhance the strength of the Ukrainian forces, helping them to repel the Russian attacks and regain territory. In Kyiv, president Zelensky called for the tanks to be delivered quickly and in sufficient numbers. Russia described the promise of Western tanks as a dangerous escalation, which Stoltenberg denied. "It must reduce the risk of escalation beyond Ukraine, of a war between Russia and NATO in Europe, which would be devastating, causing far more damage and death than we have already seen in Ukraine. And that is precisely why NATO has significantly increased its presence in the east [...] This is deterrence, its aim is not to provoke conflict but to prevent conflict, to preserve peace in the NATO alliance", Stoltenberg said. (CM)
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