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No decision on supplying German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine has reached at a meeting of Western allies, as Berlin continues to drag its feet – despite pleas fron Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky that “the war started by Russia does not allow delays”.
Kyiv believes the tanks would be a crucial part of fighting off the invasion by Vladimir Putin’s forces, with Mr Zelensky fearing fresh offensives in the coming weeks and months.
Poland, which borders Ukraine and fears further Russian aggression, has suggested it could send the Leopard 2 tanks it has without the express agreement required from Germany.
“There are good reasons for the (tank) deliveries and there are good reasons against, and in view of the entire situation of a war that has been ongoing for almost one year, all pros and cons must be weighed very carefully,” Germany’s defence minister, Boris Pistorius, said.
US defence secretary Lloyd Austin announced several countries have pledged to send air defence systems but said: “We can all do more.”
Nato and defence leaders from roughly 50 countries met at Ramstein Airbase, Germany, in the latest in a series of arms-pledging conferences since Russia invaded Ukraine 11 months ago.
No decision on more tanks for Ukraine, despite pleas from Zelensky
A pledging conference in Germany ended without a commitment by Western allies to send more battle tanks to Ukraine, despite a call from President Volodymyr Zelensky to speed up the delivery of military support in his country’s struggle against Russia.
So far among the Nato allies, only the UK has agreed to send tanks, in the form of 14 British Army Challenger 2s.
There had been hopes that Germany would authorise the release of its Leopard 2 battle tanks, which are potentially available in far greater numbers.
Eleanor Noyce20 January 2023 20:30
Wagner group denies recruiting Serbs
Russia’s Wagner paramilitary group has denied it is recruiting Serbs to fight in Ukraine, a day after activists filed criminal complaints against the organisation in Belgrade.
Among those identified in the complaints were Russia’s ambassador to Serbia, Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, and Aleksandar Vulin, head of Serbia’s state Security and Information Agency.
“I do not recruit Serbs,” Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a statement, saying he had never head of Botsan-Kharchenko or Vulin.
Earlier this week Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic said Russia should halt its efforts to recruit Serbs to fight alongside Wagner forces. He said Russian websites and social media groups were publishing advertisements in the Serbian language in which the Wagner group called for volunteers.
Jane Dalton21 January 2023 04:00
Taiwan has learnt important lesson from Ukraine to deter China, envoy says
Taiwan has learned important lessons from Russia’s war in Ukraine that would help it deter any attack by China or defend itself if invaded, the self-ruled island’s top envoy to the US.
Among the lessons: Do more to prepare military reservists and also civilians for the kind of all-of-society fight that Ukrainians are waging against Russia.
“Everything we’re doing now is to prevent the pain and suffering of the tragedy of Ukraine from being repeated in our scenario in Taiwan,” said Bi-khim Hsiao, Taiwan’s representative in Washington, on Friday in an interview with The Associated Press.
“So ultimately, we seek to deter the use of military force. But in a worst-case scenario, we understand that we have to be better prepared,” Ms Hsiao said.
Ms Hsiao spoke at the quiet, more than 130-year-old hilltop mansion that Taiwan uses for official functions in Washington.
Shweta Sharma21 January 2023 03:27
What Leopard 2 tanks are and why they would help Ukraine
The Leopard 2 tank is regarded as one of the West’s best. Given that Ukraine has been using Soviet-era tanks up until now, it would be a big step-up in capability, particularly in terms of range of firepower and manoeuvrability:
Jane Dalton21 January 2023 03:00
US to impose more sanctions on Wagner Group
The United States will impose additional sanctions next week on Russian private military company the Wagner Group, which officials say has been helping Russia’s military, the White House says.
National security spokesperson John Kirby, who said the US Treasury Department would designate Wagner as a significant transnational criminal organisation, added: “In coordination with this designation, we will also impose additional sanctions next week against Wagner and its support network across multiple continents.
“These actions recognise the transcontinental threat that Wagner poses, including through its ongoing pattern of serious criminal activity.”
Jane Dalton21 January 2023 02:00
Tanks and military aid has the UK sent
The UK government prides itself on having been led Western efforts in supplying Ukraine with aid to fight Russia’s invasion. Emily Atkinson reports on the military aid Britain has provided:
Jane Dalton21 January 2023 01:00
US senators slate German tanks delay
A bipartisan delegation of three US senators visiting Kyiv blasted the delays to Western tank supplies to Ukraine, one of them warning of an impending “major counter-offensive” by Russia.
The delegation, comprising Republican Lindsey Graham as well as Democrats Richard Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse, met Volodymyr Zelensky, who asked for “investment, not charity”, according to Mr Graham.
The Republican singled out Germany as he expressed his frustration over a lack of tanks sent to Kyiv by Western allies, including the United States.
“I am tired of the s***show of who is going to send tanks and when they are going to send them,” he said. “To the Germans: send tanks to Ukraine, because they need the tanks. It is in your interest that Putin loses in Ukraine.”
Jane Dalton20 January 2023 23:59
Protesters call on Berlin to send Leopards
Protesters have demonstrated outside the German Chancellery in Berlin demanding the country send Ukraine Leopard battle tanks.
The crowds, many of them expatriate Ukrainians living in Germany, chanted “Free the Leopards”.
Jane Dalton20 January 2023 22:56
Wagner Group has 50,000 fighters in Ukraine, says US
The US believes Russian private military company the Wagner Group has 50,000 personnel fighting in Ukraine, including 10,000 contractors and 40,000 convicts that the company has recruited from prisons, America’s security chief says.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the the US believes Wagner, owned by Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, is spending about $100 million a month in the war.
“We are seeing indications, including in intelligence, that tensions between Wagner and the Russian Defence Ministry are increasing,” Mr Kirby said.
“Wagner is becoming a rival power center to the Russian military and other Russian ministries. Publicly, Prigozhin and his fighters have criticised Russian generals and defence officials for their performance in Ukraine.”
Wagner Group mercenaries have been accused by Western countries and UN experts of numerous human rights abuses throughout Africa, including in the Central African Republic, Libya and Mali.
Jane Dalton20 January 2023 22:00
Allies very late in the day, says defence group MP
The chairman of the Commons defence select committee has criticised the western allies for being slow to provide battle tanks to Ukraine while Vladimir Putin is threatening to renew attacks.
Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood told The Independent: “The UK has done well to push the envelope of military assistance, but this is all very late in the day.
“Russia is in this for the long haul. It’s retooling its industries, it is preparing for a spring offensive. And here we are arguing over the types of tanks that we may or may not give to Ukraine.”
Jane Dalton20 January 2023 21:45