Ukraine gets Western heavy tanks
Germany and Britain have delivered Western heavy tanks to Ukraine, officials said.
The firepower of this armored fleet will be used by Kyiv to counterattack the onslaught of Russian troops.
The tanks, which have been on Ukraine’s long-standing demand list for military equipment, were promised delivery to Kyiv earlier this year and have now arrived in time for Ukrainian forces’ spring offensive.
As Ukraine gains conventional firepower, the Kremlin has vowed to pursue a plan announced by Vladimir Putin to deploy strategic nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus. Russia’s initiative has been widely criticized.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told reporters on Monday that Berlin had supplied Kyiv with ‘very modern’ Leopard tanks. The Ministry of Defense later said 18 tanks had been delivered.
‘Our tanks were delivered to our Ukrainian friends as promised and on time,’ German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said in a statement.
A spokesman for Kyiv’s defense ministry said the heavily armored vehicles were joined by Britain’s Challenger tanks.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov earlier said he had visited a ‘new addition’ to the country’s forces. These include Challenger tanks from Britain as well as Marder infantry fighting vehicles from Germany and Cougar armored trucks and Stryker armored personnel carriers from the United States.
‘A year ago, no one could have imagined that the support of our partners would be so strong,’ Reznikov said on Facebook.
In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Western criticism of Putin’s announcement of strategic nuclear deployments ‘will not affect Russian plans.’
In a televised interview two days ago, Putin said Moscow would deploy strategic nuclear weapons ‘without violating the international treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, ahead of a visit by International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi, that it is not possible to restore the safety of the Russian-controlled Zaporizhia nuclear power plant.
Zelensky told visiting Rafael Grossi, ‘Any nuclear security and recovery efforts without the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops and personnel from the Zaporizhia nuclear plant and the surrounding area will fail,’ the president said in a statement.
Grossi is expected to visit the nuclear plant later this week.
‘I met with Zelensky today in the city of Zaporizhia and had an important exchange on the safety of the Zaporizhia NPP (Nuclear Power Plant) and its workers,’ he said on Twitter.
‘I reiterated the IAEA’s full support for Ukraine’s nuclear facilities,’ he said.
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