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Ukraine has called on Western allies to provide tanks, and the United States announced that the latest military aid of more than $2.5 billion does not include tanks

Profile photo: A woman photographs an open-air display of a Russian tank destroyed by Ukraine in Kiev, Ukraine
Profile photo: A woman photographs an open-air display of a Russian tank destroyed by Ukraine in Kiev, Ukraine

Hours after Ukraine called on Western allies to provide tanks to help defeat Russia, the United States announced more than $2.5 billion in additional military aid on Thursday (Jan. 19), but not including tanks.

The latest U.S. military assistance package includes 59 Bradley combat vehicles and 90 Stryker armored personnel carriers. In addition to these armored vehicles, there are three types of missiles, tens of thousands of shells and mortar shells, and additional HIMARS, as well as other air defense systems.

Profile photo: American servicemen participating in exercises in Estonia prepare to launch Stinger missiles from Stryker armored vehicles. (10 March 2022)
Profile photo: American servicemen participating in exercises in Estonia prepare to launch Stinger missiles from Stryker armored vehicles. (10 March 2022)

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will meet with allied defense ministers Friday at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, and other countries are expected to announce more aid. But so far, neither Germany nor the United States has been willing to provide the Leopard 2 and Abrams main battle tanks that Ukraine has requested.

At the Ramstein meeting, Austin said, “we will reaffirm our joint commitment to support Ukraine’s self-defense over the long term.” ”

The latest U.S. aid package brings the total amount of U.S. military aid to Ukraine since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly a year ago to nearly $27 billion.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov issued a joint statement thanking the 50 countries that helped strengthen Ukraine’s defenses, but said the Russian army had “significant numerical superiority in manpower, weapons, and equipment.”

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The two Ukrainian officials said that one of the most urgent needs to resist the Russian invasion is to provide Ukraine with modern armored vehicles and allow the Ukrainian army to have Western tanks to master better firepower and mobility.

Kuleba and Reznikov welcomed the UK’s decision to provide the British Challenger 2 to Ukraine while urging countries with German-made Leopard 2 tanks to do the same.

“We assure that we will use these weapons responsibly and exclusively to defend the territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders,” the ministers said.

According to a U.S. official speaking to The Associated Press (AP) and a German official speaking to Reuters, Germany would allow the Leopard 2 tank to be handed over to Ukraine if the U.S. supplied the U.S.-made Abrams tank, which the U.S. has not yet agreed to do.

Colin Kahl, the deputy secretary of defense for policy, told reporters Wednesday that Ukraine needs equipment to help break through Russia’s entrenched defenses. But he said that this is not the best time to supply Abrams tanks. He noted that the use and maintenance of these tanks could pose a challenge.

“One of the things that Secretary Austin has been focused on is that we should not give Ukrainians systems that they can’t repair, that they can’t maintain, and that they can’t afford in the long run, because that doesn’t help,” Carr said. ”

Profile photo: German servicemen of NATO's Rapid Reaction Vanguard Force drive a Leopard 2 tank in Münster, Germany. (20 May 2019)
Profile photo: German servicemen of NATO’s Rapid Reaction Vanguard Force drive a Leopard 2 tank in Münster, Germany. (20 May 2019)

Germany’s new defense minister, Boris Pistorius, welcomed U.S. Defense Secretary Austin in Berlin. Pistorius said that the German weapons systems sent to Ukraine have proved effective, but he did not mention the Leopard 2 tank.

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“Together with our partners, we will continue to support Ukraine in its fight for freedom, territorial independence, and sovereignty,” Pistoris said.

In Washington, a Pentagon spokesman said the United States would support Ukraine if it tried to regain Crimea, which Russia captured in 2014.

Sabrina Singh, a deputy Pentagon spokeswoman, said: “They have every right to take it back.” Crimea is part of Ukraine. We have made this clear from the outset. If they decide to launch an operation in Crimea, this is entirely within their rights. “

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted Thursday thanking Estonia and Sweden for announcing new military aid packages.

Deeply grateful to PM @kajakallas for their biggest military defense aid package announced today, including howitzers, grenade launchers & ammunition.
🇪🇪 showed in deed its genuine support for 🇺🇦 in fighting the aggressor. We value it.
It is investment into our common victory!

— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) January 19, 2023

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said her government would provide howitzers, grenade launchers, and ammunition, which is Estonia’s “largest heavy weapons aid package to Ukraine so far.”

Zelensky called this batch of aid an “investment in our mutual victory.”

Sweden said Thursday it would provide armored infantry fighting vehicles and anti-tank weapons as part of a $419 million aid package.

“Military support for Ukraine is absolutely critical,” Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson told a news conference. “The desire for what Ukraine wants carries a lot of weight in our decision-making.”

European Council President Charles Michel traveled to Kiev on Thursday to meet with Zelensky and other officials.

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Churchill used freedom and hope as a weapon to defeat the Nazis.
Mandela used his prison cell as a symbol of spiritual liberty to transform his country.
Today @ZelenskyyUa embodies 🇺🇦’s spirit of national resistance.
You will win because of this spirit & because you are not alone pic.twitter.com/0sYeRuBi0a

— Charles Michel (@CharlesMichel) January 19, 2023

In a video posted on Twitter, Michelle said Ukrainians are “fighting for their land, they are fighting for their future and the future of their children and grandchildren,” as well as for “our shared European values and principles.”

“They need and deserve our support, so we will discuss with President Zelensky and his team the specific measures we can put in place to ensure they become stronger and more powerful,” Michel said.

During his visit to Kiev, Michel declared that “we must spare no effort” to help Ukraine join the European Union, which currently has 27 member states.

Addressing the Ukrainian parliament, he praised Ukraine’s resilience in resisting the Russian invasion and said: “Ukraine is the EU, and the EU is Ukraine.”

(This article draws on reports from the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, and Reuters.)

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