Home Europe Still no Leos for Ukraine as allies promise massive aid package

Still no Leos for Ukraine as allies promise massive aid package

US defense secretary Lloyd J. Austin III is greeted upon arrival to the Ministry of Defense in Berlin by German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius and Ambassador Amy Gutmann Jan 19, 2023. Photo: US defense department

No decision has been made by Germany on sending its own or approving the transfer of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine by other countries at a major gathering of allies at Ramstein base in Germany on Friday.

This is despite widespread pressure and expectations on Germany to allow the tanks to be sent to Ukraine to aid its defense against the Russian invasion.

The meeting at Ramstein Air Base was the eighth of its kind and brought together representatives from more than 50 nations and organizations to determine the best way to get the military capabilities that Ukraine needs to repel Russian forces from their sovereign territory.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the contact group as the meeting opened and the delegates received a briefing from Ukrainian military officials on the situation on the ground and what they believe they need to continue operations.

It is the first time Zelenskyy addressed the contact group, saying how the supplied military capabilities are already making a difference on the frontlines in Ukraine.

“But do we have a lot of time,” the president asked. “No. Terror does not allow for discussion. The terror which burns city after city becomes insolent when I tell [it] that defenders of freedom run out of weapons against it. The war started by Russia does not allow delays.”

The president called on the contact group to speed up deliberations. “I’m truly grateful to all of you for the weapons you have provided,” he said. “Every unit helps to save our people from terror, but time remains a Russian weapon.”

US defense secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, who chairs the contact group, began the meeting detailing the latest tranche of weapons and supplies the United States is pledging to Ukraine.

The $2.5 billion set of equipment and ammunition is one of the largest yet and brings the total US contribution to the effort to $26.7 billion since the Russian invasion began Feb. 24, 2022.

It provides even more air-defense capabilities to help Ukraine defend its cities and its skies, including NASAMS munitions and eight Avenger air-defense systems.

The US will also be sending 59 more Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, 90 Stryker armored vehicles, 53 MRAPs, and 350 up-armored Humvees.

And this new package will also provide thousands more rounds of artillery.

“Now, the United States will also provide Ukrainian forces with combined arms and joint maneuver training. And this training will work in concert with efforts by the European Union and others,” Austin said.

“And we’re proud to stand together with our valued allies and partners to support Ukraine’s self-defense.

Poland has been a leader in providing armored vehicles, in training Ukrainian forces, and in providing shelter for Ukrainian refugees.

Our German hosts have announced that they will also provide a Patriot air-defense system for Ukraine, complementing our own Patriot contribution. Germany will also donate Marder Infantry Fighting Vehicles for Ukraine.”

Separately, Lithuania said it would providing Ukraine with L-70 anti-aircraft guns and ammunition as well as Mi-8 helicopters.

Latvia is also sending two M-17 helicopters, as well as Stinger portable air defense systems and other ammunition.

Denmark announced earlier this week it would send all of its Caesar howitzers to Ukraine, while the Estonian package will consist of tens of 155mm FH-70 and 122mm D-30 howitzers, 155mm artillery ammunition, support vehicles for
artillery units, and Carl-Gustaf M2 anti-tank grenade launchers.

The Netherlands recently sent additional armored personal carriers and will join the US and Germany by providing two Patriot launchers and rockets.

It is also worth noting that the UK has pledged to send Challenger 2 tanks, as well as AS90 self-propelled guns.