Ukraine asks West to hurry up with supplies of tanks, air defences

The country is paying with lives at the front for the slow pace of discussions in foreign capitals, an official says

Tom BalmforthReuters
Published : 19 Jan 2023, 08:36 AM
Updated : 19 Jan 2023, 08:36 AM

Ukraine urged Western allies on Thursday to hurry up and supply tanks and air defences to Kyiv, saying it was paying with Ukrainian lives at the front for the slow pace of discussions in foreign capitals.

"We have no time, the world does not have this time," said Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Western allies meet at the Ramstein Air Base Germany on Friday with the focus on whether Berlin will allow its Leopard 2 battle tanks to be supplied to Kyiv to help drive out Russian forces.

"The question of tanks for Ukraine must be closed as soon as possible. Just like the questions of additional air defence systems," Yermak said in a statement.

"We are paying for the slowness with the lives of our Ukrainian people. It shouldn't be like that."

His comments echoed an appeal made by President Volodymyr Zelensky in a video speech to the World Economic Forum on Wednesday. Zelenskiy said tanks and air defence units should be delivered faster than Russia could stage its next attacks.

This week, Britain raised the pressure on Germany by becoming the first Western country to send Western tanks.

Almost 11 months since Russia invaded its neighbour, Moscow's forces hold swathes of Ukraine's east and south. The battlefield momentum has been with Kyiv for months, but Moscow has expended huge resources to try to advance in the east.

Leopard tanks are held by an array of NATO nations, but transferring them to Ukraine requires Germany's approval.

Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Kyiv appealed to the nations that have Leopard 2 tanks - Greece, Denmark, Spain, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Turkey, Finland and Sweden - to supply them.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
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