Allies fail to reach deal on German tanks for Ukraine: Live updates

Allies fail to reach deal on German tanks for Ukraine: Live updates

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credit…Nicole Tung for The New York Times

BRUSSELS — A number of countries announced new military aid packages for Ukraine on Thursday, a day before their defense ministers gathered at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to coordinate their aid to Ukraine.

The meeting in Germany will include officials from as many as 50 countries and will be chaired by US Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, and will focus on how to provide Ukraine with the weapons it needs, including modern Western tanks, to try to push back Russian troops from occupied territory in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine and some of its allies have been pressuring Germany to deliver or allow exports to Ukraine of its advanced Leopard 2 tanks, but Berlin specifically wants Washington to be part of the collective decision to send Western tanks.

To boost the Ramstein meeting, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and his Estonian counterpart Hanno Pevkur hosted a meeting of their Baltic and Central European counterparts at a military base in Estonia to announce more military aid to Ukraine.

Some of the donations listed in the so-called Tallinn Pledge – which was also signed by Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Slovakia – have already been announced, including Britain’s commitment to sent Challenger 2 tanks. Others came in new, including another round of Brimstone missiles from Britain and S-60 anti-aircraft guns with 70,000 rounds of ammunition from Poland.

The parties said in joint statement that they have committed to a “collective pursuit of providing an unprecedented array of donations” in support of Ukraine.

“Together, we will continue to support Ukraine’s transition from resistance to the expulsion of Russian forces from Ukrainian soil,” the statement said.

Western officials say Ukraine has only a narrow window before the expected Russian spring offensive, and they were works to accelerate heavy, complex weapons to Kyiv.

In Brussels, after a meeting of NATO’s top defense officials, known as the Military Committee, its chairman, Admiral Rob Bauer of the Netherlands, and the top US officer in Europe, General Christopher G. Cavoli, said quality tanks were important to Ukraine as part of what they called “balance of all systems.”

“There is no particular weapon system that is a silver bullet,” General Cavoli said. “At the end of the day, attack just comes down to a balance between firepower, mobility and defense,” and tanks can play an important role in military success.

The officers were careful to say that individual nations make their own decisions about supplying Ukraine with certain weapons systems, but they made it clear that the Russians are rebuilding their own military stocks.

“In a war like this, every kind of equipment is necessary,” said Admiral Bauer. “And the Russians fight with tanks. So the Ukrainians also need tanks.

Details of new arms aid began to emerge ahead of the Ramstein meeting, including plans by the United States for a $2.5 billion package that includes nearly 100 Stryker combat vehiclesand a promise by Sweden to supply NLAW anti-tank missiles and CV90 infantry fighting vehicles in its largest equipment package to date.

Estonia said the package it announced on Thursday as part of the Tallinn pledge was also the largest package of military aid to Ukraine, including remote-fire and anti-tank weapons as well as ammunition worth a total of 113 million euros, or about 122 million dollar. Military aid to Ukraine will rise to 370 million euros, or just over 1 percent of Estonia’s gross domestic product.

“The free world must continue to provide arms assistance to Ukraine and do so at a much greater scale and speed,” Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kalas said in a statement. “All countries need to look at their stocks and ensure that industries can produce more and faster.”

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