Putin on ‘back foot’ with allies sending tanks to Ukraine, says PM

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Downing Street said Vladimir Putin has been put on the “back foot” by the US, Germany and other allies after Britain led the way in supplying battle tanks to Ukraine.

No10 also stressed that “decisive, collective action will be the catalyst for other countries to follow.”

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It issued a statement on Wednesday following talks between Rishi Sunak, Joe Biden, Olaf Scholz, Emmanuel Macron and Italian leader Giorgia Meloni.


A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister welcomed decisions by allies to announce major battle tank contributions and updated on the UK’s unwavering support for Ukraine, including last week’s donation of a squadron of Challenger 2 tanks.” His decision of

“This decisive, collective action will be a catalyst for other countries to follow suit,” the prime minister said.

“The prime minister said it was now clear that Russia was on the backfoot, and that there was a window for international partners to accelerate efforts to secure lasting peace for Ukraine.

“He called on allies to step up their support in the weeks and months ahead.”

This comes after US President Mr Biden announced on Wednesday that the US would send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine after Germany first vowed to send 2 Leopard tanks.

He said the US would send “the most capable tanks in the world” which are needed to help the Ukrainians “improve their ability to maneuver in open terrain”.

The decisions by Washington and Berlin come as Western allies help Ukraine prepare for a possible spring counter-offensive to try to drive Russia out of seized territory. Britain has already promised to send tanks.

In announcing the decision, Biden said, “The expectation from Russia is that we will disengage.” “But we are totally, completely and utterly united.”

He said the decision to send the tanks was “one more proof of our permanent and unwavering commitment to Ukraine.”

The move is a U-turn after the US suggested that the complexity of the Abrams tanks was a hindrance to supplying them to help the Ukrainian military against Russia’s invasion.

It comes despite Moscow warning Berlin that sending tanks “does not bode well for future relations” and told the US it would be a “blatant provocation” if it authorized such a move.

The US leader insisted that the aid was being used to help defend Ukraine and defend its land.

“There is no offensive threat to Russia,” he said. “If the soldiers return to Russia, this war will end today.”

Volodymyr Zelensky described the deployment of the tanks as “an important step on the road to victory”.

It came as he called on the West on Wednesday to rapidly supply hundreds of battle tanks to Ukraine as Mr Putin’s forces prepare to launch a spring offensive.

This file photo shows German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (C) talking with soldiers in front of a Leopard 2 main battle tank

, AFP via Getty Images

In his nightly address, Mr. Zelensky thanked Ukraine’s allies for their support against Putin’s bloody invasion. But he is calling for 300 tanks to forcefully turn the tide of war against Russia.

“It is not about five or 10 or 15 tanks. The requirement is high,” he said. “Every day we are doing everything necessary to fill the deficit. Discussions need to end with decisions. Really a decision to strengthen our defense against terrorists.”

He also stressed the need for “speed of implementation” of military equipment promises.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced on Wednesday morning that Berlin would supply Ukraine with its Leopard 2 tanks, overcoming misgivings about sending the heavy weaponry that Kyiv is critical to defeating a Russian offensive, but Moscow dismissed as an unnecessary one. Cast as stimulus.

He also gave the green light to other allies including Poland, Spain and Norway to send their German-made Leopards.

“This decision follows our well-known line of support to Ukraine to the best of our ability. We are working in a closely coordinated manner internationally,” Mr. Scholz said in a statement after a cabinet meeting.

The goal was to quickly establish two battalions with Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine, stating that Germany would provide 14 Leopard 2 tanks from military stocks in the first phase. stock.

Training of Ukrainian soldiers in Germany will start soon and Berlin will also provide logistics and ammunition. Rishi Sunak welcomed Germany’s decision, saying that with the UK’s Challenger 2s “they will strengthen Ukraine’s defensive firepower”.

an abrams tank

, AFP via Getty Images

Germany was ready to send about 14 Leopards, Poland and other allies were also supplying this model of tank to Kyiv. Britain has already promised to send 14 Challenger 2 tanks.

Mr Zelensky said he was “sincerely grateful” for Berlin’s “important and timely” decision to provide Kyiv with battle tanks.

But the number was expected to fall short of the 300 requested by Kyiv, although it may soon recover.

“A few hundred tanks for our tank crews,” urged Andrey Yermak, the head of Mr. Zelensky’s administration. “This is what is going to be the real punching fist of democracy.”

Military experts said the West was in a race against time to deliver the tanks to Ukraine and train its forces to successfully operate and deploy them against a Russian spring offensive.

Retired British general Sir Richard Barons, former head of Joint Forces Command, said: “It will make a big difference that Ukraine is able to defend the region from incoming Russian invasions, although it is a big question mark whether it will make enough of a difference.” Will reach on time this year.

But he argued: “This number is not enough to allow Ukraine to go on the offensive, where it will seek at least three times, maybe seven times, superiority in the number of Russian tanks.” The timing of delivery of the specifically American tanks was unclear, and could potentially be months.

Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, said Washington’s possible delivery of battle tanks to Ukraine would be “another blatant provocation” against his country.

Putin may respond to the deployment of tanks with another military atrocity. With tensions between the West and Russia at their worst in decades, the Russian Defense Ministry also said today that the frigate Admiral Gorshkov had tested its strike capabilities in the western Atlantic.

The ministry said the frigate had run a computer simulation on hypersonic Zircon missiles. Zircon missiles have a range of 560 miles, and can travel at several times the speed of sound, making them difficult to defend against. The statement did not say that the frigate had launched the missile.

But the West appeared united in supplying tanks against Putin’s offensive, which has entered its 12th month and killed tens of thousands of civilians.

More than 100,000 Russian soldiers are estimated to have been killed or wounded, with similar casualty levels among Ukraine’s military.

Washington was ready to begin a process that would eventually send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, two US officials said, just days after it argued against accepting Kyiv’s requests on the grounds that these vehicles It would be difficult to maintain in a war zone. A third official said the US commitment could total 30 tanks.

The battle front, which stretches for more than 1,000 km (620 mi) in eastern and southern Ukraine, has been largely frozen for two months despite heavy losses on both sides. Russia and Ukraine are believed to be planning new attacks.

The Russian-installed governor of Ukraine’s Donetsk region in eastern Donbass claimed that units of the Wagner Private Military Company were making progress in the town of Bakhmut, with fighting ongoing in a previously Ukrainian-held neighborhood.

Putin on ‘back foot’ with allies sending tanks to Ukraine, says PM

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