German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said that despite the request of Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelenski, a decision was not taken at the Ukraine aid conference to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
Speaking to reporters at the meeting held at Ramstein Air Base, Pistorius said, “We still cannot say when the decision will be made on the Leopard tanks issue and what that decision will be.”
Before the meeting, there was an expectation that a decision would be made to give tanks to Ukraine, with increasing pressure from some European countries.
The German Defense Minister also denied accusations that his country was simply opposing the delivery of tanks, saying that “against a united coalition it is wrong that Germany opposes it alone”.
Pistorius added that if a positive decision is taken, he has ordered an inventory count to be carried out so that delivery can be made quickly.
Germany’s hesitation in giving the tanks came under harsh criticism from countries such as Finland and Poland. Both of these countries have Leopard 2 tanks, but Berlin’s approval is required before they can be exported to third countries.
In his speech at the meeting via video link, Ukrainian leader Zelensky asked Western allies to “accelerate” arms deliveries to Ukraine.
Germany became one of the main arms supplier to Ukraine after the invasion of Russia. However, he did not approve the sending of Leopard 2 tanks.
German government sources say that Germany will send Leopard 2 tanks if the US sends Abrams tanks to Ukraine.
The US refuses, arguing that it would be impractical to ship Abrams tanks to Ukraine due to fuel and maintenance requirements.
US Secretary of State Lloyd Austin called on the allies to provide more assistance to the Kyiv administration at the NATO Defense Ministers meeting.
At the meeting, where Turkey was also represented by Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar, Austin said, “Russia is reorganizing, recruiting soldiers and trying to acquire equipment again. It is not time to slow down. It is time to provide more assistance.”
The US has approved a new $2.5 billion military aid package that includes more armored vehicles and ammunition.
The US Department of Defense (Pentagon) has decided to send military equipment to Kiev, including 59 Bradley armored vehicles, 90 Stryker personnel carriers and Avenger air defense systems. In the Pentagon’s statement, it was said that the recent Russian air strikes have revealed the “brutal war in Ukraine” and that new aid will help to fend off these attacks.
The statement reminded that since February 24, 2022, when Russia’s invasion began, the United States has provided 26.7 billion dollars of support to Ukraine.
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov, on the other hand, argued that the West’s sending of additional tanks to Ukraine would not change the course of the war and that the Ukrainian people would add to the problems.
On the other hand, a number of countries, including the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, promised a new aid package to Ukraine.
Representatives of 11 countries, which had previously gathered at a military base in Estonia, decided to increase their arms aid with the aim of Ukraine dominating new regions and stopping Russia’s advance.
Britain, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Estonia, the Netherlands and Slovakia had promised more support to the Kyiv administration.