As the United States urged Kyiv to delay undertaking such an operation, Western allies on Friday dashed Ukraine’s hopes for a quick deployment of combat tanks to strengthen its firepower for a spring onslaught against Russian soldiers.
After a summit of the allies at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, the top US general added that it would be extremely difficult for Ukraine to push out Russian invading forces this year.
The question of whether Germany would agree to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine or allow other countries that have them to do so had dominated the lead-up to the Ramstein meeting.
According to officials, no decision was ultimately made about the supply of Leopards on Friday, but significant supplies of other weapons, like as air defense systems and other tank models, were pledged instead.
“We had a frank discussion on Leopards 2. To be continued,” Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleskii Reznikov said after the meeting.
The United States was also holding fast to its decision not to provide Abrams tanks to Ukraine yet, a senior US official said in Washington.
In Ramstein, US General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a news conference: “From a military standpoint, I still maintain that for this year, it would be very, very difficult to militarily eject the Russian forces from every inch of Russian-occupied Ukraine.”
As the war sparked by a Russian invasion last February rages on with no end in sight, the events probably disappointed Ukraine. More battle tanks were expressly requested by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
This week, Ukraine was particularly badly hit, with reports of 44 confirmed fatalities and 20 unaccounted-for following a Russian missile attack on an apartment building in Dnipro. Russians have started placing flowers at makeshift shrines to the victims in St. Petersburg and Moscow.