Kyiv urged Western allies on Thursday to hurry up and supply tanks and air defense systems, saying Ukraine was paying in lives for the slow pace of discussions in foreign capitals.
“We have no time, the world does not have this time,” said Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
Western allies meet at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday with the focus on whether Berlin will allow its Leopard 2 battle tanks to be supplied to Kyiv to help drive out Russian forces.
Ukraine, in a joint foreign and defense ministry statement, said the Kremlin was determined to escalate hostilities to revive its faltering invasion and that the threat of a new full-scale offensive by Russian forces was “very real”.
“The question of tanks for Ukraine must be closed as soon as possible. Just like the questions of additional air defense systems,” Yermak said in his statement.
“We are paying for the slowness with the lives of our Ukrainian people. It shouldn’t be like that.”
His comments echoed an appeal made by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a video speech to the World Economic Forum on Wednesday. Zelenskiy said tanks and air defense units should be delivered faster than Russia could stage its next attacks.
The joint Ukrainian statement acknowledged that the Kremlin retained a “substantial quantitative advantage in troops, weapons and military equipment” over Ukraine.
Almost 11 months since Russia invaded its neighbor, Moscow’s forces hold swathes of Ukraine’s east and south. The battlefield momentum has been with Kyiv for months, but Moscow has expended huge resources to try to advance in the east.
Leopard tanks are held by an array of NATO nations, but transferring them to Ukraine requires Germany’s approval.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Kyiv appealed to the nations that have Leopard 2 tanks – Greece, Denmark, Spain, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Turkey, Finland and Sweden – to supply them.
This week, Britain raised the pressure on Germany by becoming the first Western country to send Western tanks, a decision that Kyiv said it welcomed. [Reuters][