Three European countries announced this Tuesday the shipment “in the coming months” of a hundred Leopard 1 heavy tanks to Ukraine to repel the offensive of the Russian troops, who assured that the advance in the east is a “success”.
The announcement coincided with a surprise visit to kyiv by new German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, and as Ukrainian leaders continue to urge their Western allies to speed up shipments of promised tanks.
“At least 100 Leopard 1 A5 tanks” will be delivered “in the coming months”, the defense ministers of Germany, Holland and Denmark in a joint statement.
These Leopard 1s, older than the Leopard 2s, of which Germany also promised 14 copies to Ukrainethey will be reconditioned.
Defense Minister of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikovposted on Twitter a smiling photo with Pistorius holding a miniature tank and thanking Germany.
However, the timetable for Western deliveries remains unclear, just as Ukraine fears a new large-scale Russian attack.
Russia assured on Tuesday that its offensive in eastern Ukraine is progressing “successfully.” Since January, his army, supported by the Wagner group paramilitaries and reinforced by hundreds of thousands of mobilized civilians, has gone on the offensive again, particularly in Donbas, the eastern region that Moscow claims to annex.
“Currently, the fighting is progressing successfully in the areas” of Bakhmut and Vugledar, said the Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu in a statement published after a meeting with senior army and ministry commanders.
The Russian minister cited the recent conquests of seven towns, including Soledar, a neighboring Bakhmut municipality that Ukrainian forces ceded in January.
Shoigu also warned that an increase in Western aid to kyiv may lead to an “unpredictable” level of escalation in the conflict.
Experts agree that Russia is preparing a major offensive for late winter or early spring.with the goal of at least conquering the entirety of Donbas, which is currently partially occupied by Moscow forces.
Near Bakhmut, artillery continued to shell Russian positions on Tuesday, according to reporters from the news agency AFP They heard frequent gunshots.
The fall of Bakhmut, the scene of several months of deadly fighting, would open the way for a Russian offensive towards Kramatorsk, the main city in Donbas under Ukrainian control.
Some 150 kilometers further south, Russian forces continue the offensive at Vugledar, near a railway junction connecting to the east and the occupied south.
In the north of Donbas, the Russians are also putting pressure on their adversary, in an area recaptured by kyiv in September.
Sergei Solomona 31-year-old Ukrainian construction worker turned soldier, confirms that Ukrainian forces risk being outgunned by Moscow’s.
“The Russians have tanks, armored personnel carriers, Grad [cohetes], everything you can imagine”, he says. “We have equipment, but not a lot of ammunition,” she assured.
At the insistence of the Ukrainian government and after having delayed the decision for a long time for fear of provoking an escalation, the Americans and Europeans recently decided to send dozens of heavy tanks so that Ukraine can deal with the Russian offensive.
However, their number remains below kyiv’s expectations. And the Westerners continue to refuse to hand over fighter jets.
The United States, on the other hand, promised weapons with a range of up to 150 km, which Ukraine demands in order to attack Russian ammunition depots and supply lines far from the front.
(With information from AFP)
Putin accumulates reinforcements and Ukraine prepares to resist another major offensive almost a year after the Russian invasion
Ukraine called on the West to remove the taboo on supplying fighter jets to defend against Russia
Russia’s deficit skyrocketed in January after oil and gas revenues fell 46%