On Tuesday, February 7, three European countries announced that they would send 100 Leopard 1 heavy tanks to Kyiv “in the coming months” to help their forces repel the Russians. Meanwhile, the United States has approved a $10 billion arms sale to Poland amid Russia’s intensifying war on Ukraine.
The countries’ announcement on Tuesday coincided with German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius’ first visit to Kyiv since his appointment in January 2022. At a time when Ukrainian leaders are urging their Western allies to speed up deliveries of the heavy tanks.
The defense ministers of Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark announced in a joint statement that Ukraine would receive “no less than 100 ‘Leopard 1A5’ tanks” in the coming months.
These tanks are older versions of the more advanced Leopard 2s, some of which were also promised by Western countries to Kyiv.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the three countries for their “important support”. At a news conference with Pistorius, he also said, “The recent decision to supply us with Panther tanks is an important one for us. We don’t want to cede the initiative to Russia.”
The timetable for the delivery of tanks from Western countries is unclear. Meanwhile, Kyiv fears it may not arrive in time to fend off an imminent, massive Russian attack.
The website of German “Der Spiegel” magazine reported earlier on Tuesday, February 7 that the German government’s safety committee approved the delivery of 178 “Leopard 1” tanks to Ukraine, far exceeding the previously announced number.
Some tanks will be shipped to Kyiv in the summer, but most of the Leopard 1s will be delivered in 2024, the website added.
The move follows the German government’s decision in January to hand over the most advanced Leopard 2 battle tank in the army’s inventory as international pressure mounts.
Deals with Poland
On the other hand, according to the Associated Press, the United States approved the sale of weapons worth 10 billion U.S. dollars to Poland on Tuesday, 7th. The State Department notified Congress of its approval of the deal.
The foreign ministry said in a statement that the arms deal included the “Hippocampus” medium-range missile system, ammunition and related equipment.
The one-year anniversary of the war that began on February 24, 2022 is approaching. Against this backdrop, Poland and NATO have reached the agreement amid growing concerns about possible new Russian attacks on Ukraine.
The State Department said the agreement “will support U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives by enhancing the defense capabilities of Poland, a NATO member.”
The agreement “will enhance Poland’s military objectives, modernize its capabilities and increase interoperability with the United States and other allies, as well as expand its ability to strengthen its defense and deter regional threats,” the ministry said.
On the other hand, Russia’s TASS news agency reported on the 7th that Russia called on the US embassy to stop publishing what Moscow considered “false news” about the war in Ukraine and threatened to expel US diplomats.
The warning included a strongly worded letter to Lynn Tracy, the new U.S. ambassador to Moscow, the agency cited a senior source in the Russian foreign ministry as saying. She was told that she must strictly abide by Russian law when making any remarks about the presence of Russian armed forces in Ukraine.
At the same time, it also quoted sources as saying that American diplomats involved in what Moscow called “subversive activities” would be expelled.
A State Department spokesman confirmed that the U.S. embassy had received a diplomatic note from the Russian Foreign Ministry. But he said the department’s general policy was not to comment on diplomatic correspondence.
On the battlefield, Russia said on the 7th that its forces were successfully advancing towards the strategic cities of Bakhmut and Vukhledar in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk province.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a conference call with Russian military officials that “the fighting in the Wukhledar and Bakhmut regions is going well at the moment.” He warned the West against increasing military aid to Ukraine, which could lead to an “accidental escalation” of the conflict.
The Russian minister spoke of recent gains in seven towns, including Soledar, adjacent to Bakhmut, from which Ukrainian troops withdrew in January.
Bakhmut, south of Soledar, is a devastated city whose population has been almost completely displaced. After months of fierce fighting, the Battle of Bahmut became the longest battle in the Russo-Ukrainian war that began almost a year ago. Gaining control of it would provide a gateway for Russian forces to press ahead to take full control of Donetsk province, which Moscow has made a military priority.
On the other hand, the Ukrainian military stated on the 7th that the past 24 hours have been the bloodiest war by the Russian army so far.
He explained that according to Ukraine, 1,030 Russian soldiers were killed, bringing the total loss of Russian soldiers to 133,190.