German Tanks

Ukrainian Military Repels Fresh Russian Attacks As Zelenskiy Again Requests German Tanks

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Ukrainian forces held out against a fresh wave of Russian attacks in the east, the military said on January 23, as President Volodymyr Zelenskiy renewed his call for Germany to send Leopard tanks amid indications that Berlin is ready to show more flexibility on the issue.

Russian forces attempted to advance in three directions in the past 24 hours but were repelled, the General Staff of the Ukrainian military said in its daily update on January 23, adding that the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk, where heavy fighting has been under way for months, remained the main target of Moscow’s offensive in eastern Ukraine.

The General Staff said Russian forces had been conducting “unsuccessful offensive actions” in the Zaporizhzhya, Avdiyivka, and Lyman directions, while Ukrainian forces in Kupyansk, Novopavlovsk, and Kherson were “defending themselves.”

“The enemy continues offensive actions in the Bakhmut direction,” the General Staff reported.

In total, the Ukrainian military over the past day repelled Russian attacks in 11 locations in areas of the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk known as the Donbas, the General Staff said.

Kyiv has called on its Western partners to provide more heavy weaponry, including modern tanks, especially German-made Leopards, as Russia appears to be readying for large-scale operations beyond Ukraine’s Donbas region.

But Berlin has so far shown reluctance both toward providing such tanks to Kyiv itself and allowing third countries that have Leopard tanks to send them to Ukraine. Germany has reportedly linked lifting its opposition to Washington also sending U.S.-made Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

However, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock indicated that the stalemate is nearing a conclusion, saying Berlin is ready to authorize Poland to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

“If we are asked the question, then we will not stand in the way,” Baerbock told LCI television after a Franco-German summit meeting in Paris. “We know how important these tanks are, and this is why we are discussing this now with our partners. We need to make sure people’s lives are saved and Ukraine’s territory liberated.”

Zelenskiy, in an interview on January 22 with German public broadcaster ARD, said that while a limited number of German-made tanks would not tilt the balance in Ukraine’s favor on the battlefield, it would be a strong boost to troop morale.

“When the Russian Army, which has a thousand tanks, is against us, no other country solves the problem by deciding to give us 10, 20, or 50 tanks,” Zelenskiy said. “But they would do a very important thing — they would motivate our soldiers to fight for their values. Because [such a gesture would] show that the whole world is with you.”

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Zelenskiy also criticized Germany reportedly conditioning tank deliveries to the United States doing the same thing.

“You can’t do that…. This is not an issue between Germany and America, a competition of ambitions,” Zelenskiy told ARD. “Of course, you can talk for another six months, level your influence. But people die here every day…. Simply: If you can give Leopards, then give them.”

U.S. Representative Michael McCaul (Republican-Texas) said earlier that the United States should agree to send Abrams tanks as requested by Germany to break the stalemate and “unleash” the Leopard tanks.

He said that even sending a symbolic number would be enough to push European allies to follow suit.

Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania have also made a joint appeal to Germany to step up its leadership and send Leopard tanks to Ukraine, putting further pressure on Berlin to speed up its military aid for Kyiv.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP

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