Day 330: Zelenskyy Presses Western Partners for Tanks

At a breakfast meeting of the World Economic Forum at the Swiss resort of Davos on Thursday, Ukrainian Pres. Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Western partners for continued military support to Ukraine, but bemoaned the lack of tanks from countries including the US, Poland and Germany.

Day 330: Zelenskyy Presses Western Partners for Tanks
Image credit: AP Photos [via AP News]

Facts

  • At a breakfast meeting of the World Economic Forum at the Swiss resort of Davos on Thursday, Ukrainian Pres. Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Western partners for continued military support to Ukraine, but bemoaned the lack of tanks from countries including the US, Poland and Germany. Speaking via video link and through an interpreter, Zelenskyy criticized a "lack of specific weaponry," adding: "there are times where we shouldn't hesitate ... when someone says, 'I will give tanks if someone else will also share his tanks.'"
  • The comments were a veiled criticism of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who on Wednesday dodged a question about whether Germany will commit its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Poland and Finland have previously said they're prepared to send their Leopard 2 tanks, but Germany must give permission for them to be re-exported.
  • A German government source told Reuters that Scholz has repeated the stipulation that Germany will allow its tanks to be sent to Ukraine, only if the US agrees to do the same. At time of writing, US defense Sec. Lloyd Austin and Germany's new Defense Minister Boris Pistorius were yet to resolve differences currently causing Berlin to block the sending of the Leopard 2 to Kyiv.
  • Under the condition of anonymity, US officials told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the US was preparing a $2.6B military aid package that'll include nearly 100 Stryker combat vehicles and at least 50 Bradley armored vehicles, but will exclude the Abrams tanks sought by Ukraine.
  • Zelenskyy's ramping up of pressure comes as Austin began hosting two days of meetings with Western counterparts at the US Ramstein air base in southwest Germany on Thursday. The agenda is to coordinate future military aid to Ukraine.
  • Elsewhere, following a New York Times report that the Biden administration is warming to the idea of providing Zelenskyy with weapons capable of striking Crimea, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it would be an "extremely dangerous" escalation. "This will mean taking the conflict to a whole new level which certainly will not bode well in terms of global European security," he said.
  • Meanwhile, over the past day, Russian attacks have been recorded in the regions of Chernihiv, Sumy and Donetsk as well as in Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. Four civilians were reported injured in each of Donetsk and Kherson. Pro-Russia officials said one civilian was reported injured in Ukrainian attacks on Donetsk.

Sources: Associated Press, Guardian, Reuters, TASS, and Ukrinform.

Narratives

  • Anti-Russia narrative, as provided by Guardian. These meetings must see Germany — which has a unique historical responsibility to uphold the sovereignty and freedom of Ukraine — consent to the use of Leopard 2 tanks by Kyiv. Ukrainians were some of the greatest victims of Hitler and Stalin, and Berlin now has the opportunity to intercede on Putin's war of terror against an innocent people. The whole of the West will judge the courage of Germany on whether it allows tanks to be sent to Kyiv.
  • Pro-Russia narrative, as provided by TASS. Germany, like much of the West, is fatigued with the special operation in Ukraine, which involves no-one except Kyiv and Moscow. A recent survey indicated that more than 40% of Germans oppose the supply of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukrainian forces, while a third think the German government is spending too much on intervention in the conflict. The West should not bully Berlin into this unnecessary escalation.

Predictions