A German Leopard tank on a military exercise (Getty)

Tuesday’s Coverage: Zelenskiy — “Personnel Changes” After Deputy Minister Detained Over Kickbacks

Source: Institute for the Study of War


Norwegian Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram has confirmed that Oslo will send German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

Earlier today Oslo-based newspapers Aftenposten and Dagens Naeringsliv reported that the Government was considering the delivery of 4 to 8 of the country’s 36 Leopard 2s.

The Norwegian government has not yet released details on how many tanks it will send, or the timeline for getting tanks to Ukraine.


In a public appearance in Washington, US President Joe Biden has confirmed the US delivery of 31 M1 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine.

Biden spoke of the need for Ukrainian troops to maneuver in open terrain and to deter and defend against Russian aggression: “That’s why the US has committed hundreds of armored fighting vehicles to date, including more than 500 as part of the assistance package we announced last Friday.”

He said the US will also give Ukraine the parts and equipment to maintain “the most capable tanks in the world”, but cautioned, “Delivering these tanks to the field is going to take time – time that we’ll use to make sure the Ukrainians are fully prepared to integrate the Abrams tanks into their defenses.”

Biden recalled that he told visiting Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in December, “We’re with you for as long as it takes.”

Zelenskiy reacted on Twitter:


Two civilians have been killed in Beryslav in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine by Russian shelling.

Another three people were injured when a grocery store was struck.


The Moscow Helsinki Group, Russia’s oldest human rights organization, has been liquidated by a court order.

The court ruled that the MHG, founded in 1976 by Soviet dissident scientists, did not have the correct registration.

The organization originally monitored Soviet compliance with the Helsinki Accords, an international human rights agreement in 1975. It expanded its activities for democracy and civil rights, including annual reports on Russia’s human rights situation.

In 2021, Russian authorities closed the Nobel Prize-winning Memorial, leaving the MHG as one of Russia’s independent rights organizations.


Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has thanked Germany for the confirmation of the delivery of Leopard battle tanks.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba added:

Speaking at a press conference alongside Iceland Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Scholz said, “Alongside the tanks that are being discussed now, we continue to intend to expand what we have delivered.”

Those deliveries could include air defense systems, heavy artillery, and multiple rocket launchers.


German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has told the Bundestag, “We had to break a rule and now we supply the most weapons, together with Great Britain. If we sum up what we’ve decided to deliver so far, then we can say that Germany will always be pioneering support for Ukraine.”

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said Leopard 2 tanks could be operational in Ukraine in about three months.

The Kremlin has continued to fume. The Russian Ambassador to Germany, Sergey Nechayev, said in a statement:

This extremely dangerous decision takes the conflict to a new level of confrontation and contradicts the statements of German politicians about the unwillingness of the Federal Republic of Germany to be drawn into it.

It destroys the remnants of mutual trust, causes irreparable damage to the already deplorable state of Russian-German relations, and casts doubt on the possibility of their normalization in the foreseeable future.

Nechayev blasted that the delivery of the Leopard tanks was the “final refusal” of the German Government “to recognize its historical responsibility to our people for the terrible, timeless crimes of Nazism during the Great Patriotic War, and the consigning to oblivion of the difficult path of post-war reconciliation between Russians and Germans”.


German government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit has confirmed that Berlin will send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and approve their delivery from third countries.

Hebestreit said in a statement that the goal is to quickly establish two battalions including the tanks. Training of Ukrainian troops in Germany will begin soon, and the Germans will also provide logistics and ammunition.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz is address the Bundestag at 1 p.m. (1200 GMT).


Spain may transfer 53 Leopard tanks to Ukraine, reports El Mundo.

Spain acquired 108 Leopard tanks from Germany in 1998. Of the 53 which may be sent to Kyiv, 20 are in good condition and 33 need some refurbishment.

Defence Minister Margarita Robles said, “Spain is willing, within this coordination, to work with our allies to do whatever is necessary including the sending of Leopards, training in the use of these Leopards, and helping in their maintenance and upkeep.”

Portugal is preparing to send four Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, reports Correio da Manhã.


Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has blustered over European and US delivery of tanks to Kyiv, “Unfortunately, more weapons from NATO bring more suffering for people in Ukraine. It also brings more tension to the continent. But it cannot prevent Russia from reaching our goals.”


Ukraine Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin has signed orders dismissing lead prosecutors in the Zaporizhzhia, Kirovohrad, Poltava, Sumy, and Chernihiv regions.

On Tuesday, 15 senior officials left or were removed by the Zelenskiy Government, following claims of corruption in the Infrastructure and Defense Ministries.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly address to the nation:

Society has seen yet another set of personnel decisions that have been made. I emphasize the phrase – “yet another”. We will continue to take appropriate steps – the public will see each of them and, I am sure, will support them.

Any internal issues that hinder the state are being removed and will continue to be removed. It is fair, it is necessary for our defense, and it helps our rapprochement with European institutions.

We need a strong state, and Ukraine will be just that.


Two British nationals were killed while attempting a “humanitarian evacuation” in eastern Ukraine almost three weeks ago.

The family of Andrew Bagshaw, 47, said he and Chris Parry, 28, were slain as they tried to move residents out of Soledar in eastern Ukraine.

Russian forces had attacked the small town for five months and took over the center on January 12.

Bagshaw’s family said the car of the two Britons was hit by an artillery shell while they were trying to rescue an elderly woman.

A statement on behalf of Mr Parry’s family said:

His selfless determination in helping the old, young and disadvantaged there has made us and his larger family extremely proud.

We never imagined we would be saying goodbye to Chris when he had such a full life ahead of him. He was a caring son, fantastic brother, a best friend to so many and a loving partner to Olga.

He found himself drawn to Ukraine in March in its darkest hour at the start of the Russian invasion and helped those most in need, saving over 400 lives plus many abandoned animals.

It is impossible to put into words how much he will be missed but he will forever be in our hearts.


BBC Russian journalists have confirmed the deaths of 92 Russian soldiers in a Ukrainian strike on a barracks on New Year’s Day.

The soldiers were among an estimated 400 in the converted vocational school in Makiivka in eastern Ukraine. Sixteen troops are still unaccounted for.

After days of delay, the Russian Defense Ministry conceded the deaths of 89 troops, blaming the soldiers for giving away their location through the use of mobile phones.

See also Ukraine War, Day 315: Anger and Grief Within Russia Over 100s of Troop Casualties in Makiivka


In his nightly address to the nation, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said of the imminent supply of battle tanks to Kyiv:

It is important to see the reality: it is not about 5 or 10 or 15 tanks. The need is greater. Every day we are doing everything necessary to fill the deficit. And I am grateful to everyone who supports us in this.

However, discussions need to end with decisions. Decisions to really strengthen our defense against terrorists. Our allies have the necessary number of tanks. When the necessary weight of decisions is reached, we will be happy to express gratitude for every weighty decision.

We are still working on this.

Earlier in the statement, Zelenskiy gave the context of a possible Russian offensives in the spring, including in eastern Ukraine:

Russia is preparing for a new wave of aggression with the forces it can mobilize. The occupiers are already increasing pressure in the Bakhmut, Vuhledar and other directions. And they want to increase pressure on a larger scale. In order not to recognize the mistake of aggression, the masters of Russia want to throw more of their people and equipment into the fighting.

This means that all of us in the free world must step up our cooperation to not only respond to Russia’s regular crimes…but to prevent new Russian criminal actions as much as possible.


As an international coalition commits to battle tanks to Ukraine, Russia is having trouble with its own, according to UK military intelligence.

The analysts assess that Moscow is trying to deploy a small number of T-14 Armata main battle tanks in Ukraine. But Russian forces were reluctant to accept them because the vehicles are in such poor condition.

In recent years, Russian officials have publicly described problems with the T-14’s engine and thermal imaging systems.


Norway is considering the delivery to Ukraine of 4 to 8 of the country’s 36 Leopard 2 tanks, according to Oslo-based newspapers Aftenposten and Dagens Naeringsliv.

No decision has been made.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: After nine months of appeals by Ukraine’s Zelenskiy Government and weeks of negotiation and debate, Germany has approved the delivery of Leopard heavy battle tanks to Kyiv.

German “government sources” say the Scholz Government will announce on Wednesday that permisssion has been given for Leopards — the latest version of the tank — to be sent by Scandinavian countries.

A “European official” said Germany will directly provide a company of 14 Leopard 2A6s — the latest version of the tank.

Finland and Sweden have sought German export licenses, required by Berlin, to make the deliveries. Poland has also said that it will provide Leopards.

Warsaw officially requested German consent on Tuesday. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that the Leopards would be delivered even if Berlin did not give permission, but “I hope that this answer from Germany will come quickly because the Germans are delaying, dodging, acting in a way that is difficult to understand”.

After a meeting in Berlin with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said he is encouraging countries with Leopards to start training Ukrainian soldiers in their use.

The Leopard’s manufacturer Rheinsmetall said earlier this week that the first tanks could be in Ukraine by March.

Andriy Yermak, the Ukraine Presidential Chief of Staff, hailed the developments: “This is what is going to become a real punching fist of democracy against the autocracy from the bog.”

Biden Administration to Follow with Abrams Tanks?

US officials say a similar breakthrough may come this week, with the Biden Administration leaning towards supply of M1 Abrams battle tanks.

They said the announcement would be linked with Germany’s approval of the delivery of Leopards by third countries.

A US official said the commitment will be of at least 31 Abrams tanks and eight recovery vehicles.

The Abrams was first put into service in 1980, a year after the Leopard. It is one of the most powerful tanks in the world. However, because there are no training facilities in Europe for its use, the tank is unlikely to be on the battlefield for months.

A US official emphasized that the Abramses are “probably not for the near fight”.

Over the past month, Pentagon officials hesitated over delivery, expressing concern about how Ukraine would maintain the advanced tanks and saying it could take years for any to be deployed.

But Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin finally accepted the argument of White House and State Department officials that a US commitment would give Germany necessary political cover.

The Biden Administration had hoped that last week’s announcement by the UK of the despatch of 14 Challenger 2 tanks would be enough to shift Berlin, but Chancellor Olaf Scholz insisted on confirmation of the Abrams supply.

Russia’s Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov complained, “It is obvious that Washington is purposefully trying to inflict a strategic defeat on us.”

Perhaps realizing he was admitting weakness, Antonov added, “Beyond all doubt, [the Abrams] will be destroyed like all other samples of NATO military equipment.”

There is no evidence that Russia has destroyed any “samples of NATO military equipment” in Ukraine.