Nato to send Kyiv modern tanks as new attack looms
Europe is closer to sending Ukraine modern battle tanks as Nato prepares to redouble military support in anticipation of a Russian spring offensive.
Among the heavy weapons under consideration are Stryker armoured combat vehicles from the US, Archer artillery guns from Sweden, Challenger 2 tanks from Britain and German-made Leopard 1 or 2 tanks, as international pressure mounts on Berlin to release them.
Ukraine’s supporters, led by Lloyd Austin, the US defence secretary, will discuss a new package of weaponry donations at the Ramstein airbase in Germany next week as part of a push to supply more advanced systems.
Moscow is expected to begin mobilising as many as half a million additional soldiers for a renewed onslaught after losing ground in the Kherson and Kharkiv regions. In recent months it has concentrated forces around the town of Bakhmut, where the Russian army and Wagner Group mercenaries have eked out territorial gains with significant losses on both sides.
The British Ministry of Defence intelligence unit said yesterday that the Russians had made “tactical advances” in their efforts to encircle Bakhmut and were probably in control of most of Soledar, a smaller town to the north.
President Zelensky said in a video address on Monday that there was “almost no life” and “no whole walls” left in Soledar, which he said was “covered with the corpses of the occupiers”. Before what may be a decisive phase of the war, Nato members are reaching into their arsenals for more effective munitions and combat vehicles to send Ukraine.
Over the past week alone, France has announced a consignment of AMX-10 RC “light tanks”, the US has said it will send 50 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) and Germany has consented to donate up to 40 Marder IFVs, which Kyiv has been requesting since the start of the invasion. Germany and the US also agreed to send Patriot missile defence systems. The Pentagon is planning to bring Ukrainian troops to the US for training on the systems, the Washington Post reported yesterday.
Nikolai Patrushev, the head of Russia’s security council, told the Argumenti i Fakti newspaper: “The events in Ukraine are not a clash between Moscow and Kyiv. This is a military confrontation between Russia and Nato, above all the United States and Britain.”