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Germany under growing pressure to join UK and other allies in sending tanks to Ukraine to defeat Putin’s war


ermany came under intense pressure on Thursday to join Britain and other European nations set to supply tanks to Ukraine to defeat Vladimir Putin’s war.

Britain has led the way with its commitment to supply Challenger II tanks to Kyiv.

French armed forces minister Sébastien Lecornu said Paris was now considering a request for Leclerc tanks ahead of spring offensives which could be key to deciding the outcome of the 11-month conflict.

With Putin expected to deploy T-14 Armata main battle tanks, Ukraine pleaded for the West to finally send it heavy tanks.

The appeal came as US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin met new German defence minister Boris Pistorius a day before they host a meeting of dozens of allies to pledge more weapons for Ukraine.

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That meeting, at the US Ramstein air base in Germany, has been billed as a chance to provide the arms to shift the war’s momentum in 2023.

Top of the agenda is heavy tanks, which Kyiv says it needs to fend off a new Russian onslaught and launch counter-offensives to recapture its occupied territory.

“We have no time, the world does not have this time,” said Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian presidential administration.

“We are paying for the slowness with the lives of our Ukrainian people.”

Poland, Finland and other allies are ready to supply German-built Leopard tanks.

However, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is refusing to give the go-ahead for these tanks to be sent to Ukraine, or for Germany to itself supply Leopards, until the US agrees to provide Kyiv with Abrams tanks.

Washington and many Western allies say the Leopards, which Germany made in the thousands during the Cold War and exported to its allies, are the only suitable option available in big enough numbers.

US officials say the Abrams is inappropriate for Ukraine, because it runs on turbine engines that use too much fuel for Kyiv’s strained logistics system to keep them supplied at the front.

British defence chiefs said Putin is considering deploying heavy T-14 Armata main battle tanks into Ukraine.

But they argued it will be a small number and “primarily for propaganda purposes” as Moscow is only believed to have a fleet of them “in the low tens”.

* Investigators were continuing to probe the cause of a helicopter crash near a nursery on the outskirts of Kyiv on Wednesday which killed at least 14 people including Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi and a child.

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