German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (R) greets US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Berlin, Germany, January 19, 2023 (Michael Sohn/AP)
Source: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1801 GMT:
Vladimir Solovyov, a prominent polemicist on Russian State TV, has responded to the escalation of international support for Ukraine with the declaration that Moscow’s forces must seize Paris and Berlin.
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) January 20, 2023
UPDATE 1752 GMT:
A “senior Biden Administration official” says Washington is advising Ukraine against a major offensive until the latest supply of US weaponry is in place and training has been completed.
The official said the Administration is maintaining its decision not to provide Abrams tanks at this time.
UPDATE 1735 GMT:
Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak says no decision was made at today’s Ramstein meeting on the delivery of German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
Blaszczak said he is “convinced that coalition building will end in success”: “Hope comes from the fact that…defense ministers of 15 countries met on the sidelines of today’s conference and we talked about this topic.”
At a press conference after the meeting, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin echoed the statement.
Austin summarized this week’s commitments of other armored vehicles, air defense systems, weapons, equipment, and training — including Germany’s pledge of Marder infantry fighting vehicles — to “provide the capability that Ukraine needs to be successful in the near term”.
I really do believe that it will enable the Ukrainians to be successful going forward. This is not dependent upon a single platform, this is this is a combined arms effort that we brought together that I truly believe is going to provide them the best opportunity for success.
Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau was not as charitable about the Germans:
Arming Ukraine in order to repel the Russian aggression is not some kind of decision-making exercise. Ukrainian blood is shed for real. This is the price of hesitation over Leopard deliveries. We need action, now.
— Zbigniew Rau (@RauZbigniew) January 20, 2023
UPDATE 1726 GMT:
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius told reporters that the Scholz Government has not yet made a decision on the delivery of Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine.
However, he told the Ministry this morning to “undertake an examination of the stocks” of the available tanks.
German Government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit said in Berlin that the decision is not dependent on the US delivery of Abrams tanks to Kyiv.
“At no time has there been any deal or demand that one thing would follow on from another,” he said.
That appeared to contradict Chancellor Scholz’s remark earlier this week that Germany would only consider the despatch of the Leopard 2s if the US also sent tanks.
Hebestreit said, “I find it difficult to imagine a German chancellor dictating any conditions or making demands to an American President,” although he emphasized that the government must make decisions in conjunction with the US.
The spokesman also appeared to caution Poland against sending Leopard 2s without an export license from Germany, “All our partners will surely want to behave in a law-abiding way.”
UPDATE 1307 GMT:
Finland has announced additional military aid of more than 400 million euros ($434 million) to Ukraine.
The assistance includes heavy weapons and ammunition but not Leopard 2 battle tanks.
Helsinki has said it will send some of its 200 Leopard 2s to Kyiv if there is an agreement with allies. The consent of Germany, as the manufacturer of the Leopard 2s, is needed.
Finland has now committed 590 million euros ($639 million) in military support to Ukraine.
UPDATE 1100 GMT:
Pantsir-S1 air defense systems have been placed atop Moscow buildings, including the Russian Defense Ministry, a few kilometers from the Kremlin.
Video and photos on social media showed the Pantsir-S1 gun missile systems, including on the roof of the Defense Ministry’s eight-story building along the Moskva River.
Other Pantsir-S1s have been placed close to the Ostafyevo military airfield, the Gazprom-Avia business airport, and Vladimir Putin’s residence in Moscow.
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) January 20, 2023
UPDATE 1052 GMT:
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has addressed the meeting of Defense Ministers in Ramstein, Germany:
I encourage you to make such decisions that can deprive Russian evil of any power.
It is in your power to guarantee artillery and aircraft that will crush terror. It is in your power to make victory.
The war started by RF doesn’t allow delays.
I can thank you hundreds of times – but hundreds of "thank you” are not hundreds of tanks.
We must speed up! Time must become our common weapon, just like air defense, artillery, armored vehicles & tanks.
The Kremlin must lose pic.twitter.com/wieu6fkMBn
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) January 20, 2023
UPDATE 0723 GMT:
The latest Russian attacks have killed four civilians and wounded three in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.
UPDATE 0712 GMT:
The director of the US Central Intelligence Agency, William Burns, secretly met Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at the end of last week.
A “US official and other people familiar with the visit” said Burns briefed Zelensky on expectations of Russia’s military plans in the coming weeks and months.
Burns is held in high regard in Kyiv. In January 2022, he traveled to the Ukrainian capital to present a US intelligence assessment that Russian forces would seek to capture the Hostomel Airport near Kyiv in the opening stage of an invasion. The message helped Ukraine defend the airport , defeating Moscow’s plan to enter Kyiv and topple the Zelenskiy Government.
Burns has also expressed his skepticism of Vladimir Putin’s willingness to negotiate. He said last month:
Most conflicts end in negotiations, but that requires a seriousness on the part of the Russians in this instance that I don’t think we see. At least, it’s not our assessment that the Russians are serious at this point about a real negotiation.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Ukraine may finally receive an international commitment of modern heavy battle tanks, as Defense Ministers of about 50 countries meet at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday.
In recent days, the US, France, and Germany have all pledged infantry fighting vehicles, some of which can destroy the tanks of the Russian invaders. They were joined by Sweden on Thursday, as 11 countries promised additional military assistance including air defense systems, howitzer artillery systems anti-tank weapons, machine guns, and training of Ukrainian troops.
The US confirmed another $2.5 billion package with 90 Stryker armored personnel carriers, an additional 59 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, Avenger air defense systems, and large and small munitions.
Thank you @POTUS for providing 🇺🇦 with another powerful defense support package worth $2.5 billion. Stryker IFVs, additional Bradley APCs, Avenger air defense systems are important help in our fight against the aggressor. Thank you 🇺🇸 people for unwavering leadership support!
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) January 20, 2023
However, Ukraine’s Zelenskiy Government has pressed for battle tanks for months, as it seeks not only to defend against the Russian invaders but also to extend successful counter-offensives from the autumn.
So far the US has not committed to supply of Abrams tanks, and Germany’s Scholz Government has been divided over permission to third countries to provide German-made Leopard 2s.
But on Thursday, Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said “some of the countries will definitely send Leopard tanks to Ukraine”, confirming the delivery at today’s meeting.
Late Wednesday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Warsaw — which has already announced its intention to despatch Leopard tanks to Ukraine — can do so without Germany’s approval, as long as the supply is part of an international coalition.
“Consent is of secondary importance here, we will either obtain this consent quickly, or we will do what is needed ourselves,” Morawiecki said.
The Prime Minister was more cautious on Thursday, telling reporters that he was “moderately sceptical, moderately pessimistic” about Berlin giving permission He said, “The Germans are defending themselves against this like a devil protects himself against holy water”.
A spokesperson for the German Government spokesperson has said it has yet to receive a request from any country for permission.
However, a German official said the Scholz Government will send Leopard 2s to Ukraine if the US agrees to supply Abrams tanks.
The source said Chancellor Olaf Scholz has privately set out the condition several times in recent days.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, speaking to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, called for decisive action: “There are moments when there is no need to hesitate. When people say, ‘I’ll give you tanks if someone else does.’”
He followed up in his nightly address to the nation:
We are, in fact, now waiting for a decision from one European capital, which will activate the prepared chains of cooperation regarding tanks.
We are preparing for the Ramstein meeting tomorrow. We are expecting strong decisions.
Volodymir Zelenskyy thanked the allies for the support and provision of military assistance
"We are preparing for tomorrow's Ramstein – we expect powerful decisions. We expect a powerful military support package from the United States," said Zelenskyy in his evening speech. pic.twitter.com/8AmK8HiGdj
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) January 19, 2023