Ukraine war at ‘critical moment’ with Western support ‘not enough’
Ukraine is in a “critical moment” in this war and the tranches of military support thus far from the West are “absolutely not enough” to make sure the defending forces emerge on the right side of this current impasse on the frontline, a Ukrainian official has claimed. Andrii Osadchuk, a Ukrainian MP, told Express.co.uk that a “dramatic increase in support” is necessary from the 50 nations meeting on Friday at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany to discuss the further military backing of Kyiv. He urged Western leaders to abandon what he believes is their prevailing “fear of Russia” and pledge to send “hundreds of units” instead of mere dozens, since the Ukrainian people are “paying the highest possible price compared to what we are asking from the West”.
Friday could prove to be a seminal point in the war in Ukraine, just as fighting on the frontline, outside of Bakhmut and its surrounding areas, appears ostensibly stationary.
All of Ukraine’s supporters will meet in Germany, at the Ramstein Air Base, to discuss how further to back Kyiv in their fight against Russia.
The new year has already brought an “end to the weapons taboo”, as Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba called it earlier this year, with scores of armoured personnel carriers, artillery systems, munitions, shells and air defence systems being pledged.
But with the Russian and Ukrainian Armed Forces “too finely balanced” to make significant territorial gains, according to one western official, further weapons pledges, and particularly the promise of main battle tanks, such as the British Challenger 2s, a company of which has already been pledged, the German Leopard 2s and the US Abrams M1s, could prove vital to the direction of this war.
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Mr Osadchuk, echoing the sentiment of Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky, who called for “strong decisions” at Friday’s Ramstein meeting, said the transfer of tanks was a small price to pay given the loss of life in Ukraine.
He said: “What we are asking from the West are artificial things: money, equipment, weapons. But here, we are losing humans.
“The length of the frontline is about 1,000 kilometres. When someone is saying, ‘Yes, we will give Ukraine 10 tanks’, you do not need to be a military expert to understand that 10 tanks for a 1000 km frontline is probably not so much.
“When Ukraine is saying we need hundreds of tanks, we are talking about the minimum requirement to be able to just cope with this huge line of confrontation with Russia.”
“When Poland is accelerating their process for sending the [Leopard 2] tanks, they are saying they will give something like 12 to 14 Leopards, I say, ‘Ok good’.
“When Finland is saying they will give seven to 10 tanks, or the United Kingdom is saying they will send Challenger 2 tanks, yes, okay great, they are one of the best tanks in the world.
“But this is absolutely not enough because, again, the longer this war continues, the more lives will be lost, the more infrastructure will be destroyed. That is not in the interest of Ukraine nor the West.
“So, we need to talk about hundreds of units. I think the [current hesitancy] is down to the heritage of the foreign policy tradition in the European Union that is based on a fear of Russia.”
He added: “Ukraine is fighting and we will fight to the end, but Ukraine is exhausted already. I personally do not want to see our victory at the moment when we will also die. That is not a victory. So, time matters. Now is quite a critical moment to save Ukraine from dying. We need a dramatic increase in support.”
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The German-made Leopard 2 tanks, of which hundreds are located in European countries around Ukraine, appears to be the key weapon Kyiv have been and continue to seek.
Its offensive capabilities far outweigh its Russian T-14 counterparts, which according to the British Ministry of Defence are not combat ready, and unlike the US-made Abram M1s, they would not be difficult to move into Ukraine.
On Friday morning, Lithuania, Poland and Finland all alluded to plans to discuss putting pressure on Germany to allow them to send their Leopard 2 tanks into battle. Without German-approval, it is illegal to send the vehicles into a war zone.
But Germany’s new defence minister Boris Pistorious said on Thursday night that there were still “questions to be answered” on the possibility of sending these tanks, while Chancellor Olaf Scholz reportedly said on Wednesday that they had no plans to approve this support.
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