Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed a decision by the U.S. to supply Ukraine with armored fighting vehicles and said they were exactly what the country needed, but it was not enough.
“Hundreds of thank you’s are not hundreds of tanks,” he said.
As part of a package of aid worth more than $3 billion, the U.S. will send surface-to-air missiles, armored personnel carriers, and artillery systems. The American decision follows Ukrainian requests for Germany to give Ukraine 40 armored troop carriers, according to the BBC.
At Friday’s meeting, Germany refused to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine despite the pressure.
“None of us can say today when there will be a decision for Leopard tanks and what the decision may look like,” said Boris Pistorius, Germany’s defense minister.
On Friday, defense officials from over 50 nations gathered at the airbase to pledge more equipment to help Ukraine fight Russia.
Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February of last year, the U.S. has given Ukraine a total of $26.7 billion in aid. It recently gave Ukraine a new package worth $2.5 billion, the BBC reported.
Tanks were not part of the offer, but the Pentagon promised, among other things, an additional 59 Bradley armored vehicles, 90 Stryker personnel carriers, and Avenger air defense systems.
The news came after a meeting in Estonia, where European countries said they would do more to help.
- The Czech Republic will produce further large caliber ammunition, howitzers, and APCs.
- Latvia will produce Stinger air defense systems, two helicopters, and drones.
- Poland will send S-60 anti-aircraft guns with 70,000 pieces of ammunition.
- Estonia will provide howitzers, support vehicles, ammunition, and anti-tank grenade launchers.
- Lithuania will provide anti-aircraft guns and two helicopters.
- Denmark committed to 19 French-made Caesar self-propelled howitzers.
Nearly 11 months into Russia’s war in Ukraine, NATO military officials think Moscow is planning an offensive in the spring with troops that have been partially mobilized since September.
Western officials see a “window of opportunity” for Ukraine to defeat Russia in the coming weeks. They say that Moscow doesn’t have enough weapons or trained soldiers, even though there have been efforts to get more supplies and more people to fight.
Russia warned of repercussions for increased NATO involvement. Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, said tanks “create more problems for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people” but did not resolve the conflict on Friday.
The U.K. pledges 14 Challenger 2 tanks. U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace hoped allies would “all hear the message that unlocking the tank is part of 2023.” Kyiv wants more tanks.
Before the Ramstein meeting, Zelenskyy criticized Germany’s reluctance to provide tanks and assured Berlin that the Leopards would only be used in self-defense and not go through Russia.