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Ukraine updates: German tanks to arrive in mid-spring

January 26, 2023

Germany says Ukraine will receive promised Leopard 2 tanks by early April. Russia has meanwhile fired more missiles as it continues its invasion. DW has the latest.

Leopard 2 tank seen among dust cloud
The Leopard 2 tank is known for its reliable performanceImage: Nicole Maskus/photothek/picture alliance

The Leopard 2 battle tanks Germany has promised to Ukraine to aid in its defense against Russia's invasion will arrive at the end of March or the start of April, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said on Thursday.

Speaking during a visit to German troops in the central state of Saxony-Anhalt, Pistorius said there would be training starting within the next few days for Ukrainian troops on the Marder infantry fighting vehicles, which are also to be delivered, while training for the Leopard will be "a little later."

Germany on Wednesday agreed to supply the long-requested tanks to Kyiv after pressure from both Ukraine and Western allies.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz told parliament that 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks from Bundeswehr supplies would be sent and that Berlin was also granting approval for other European countries to send the German-made tanks from their own stocks.

The US later said it would send 31 of its Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

Britain also said on Thursday that it hopes the Challenger 2 tanks it is delivering to Ukraine will arrive there at the end of March. 

Meanwhile, Canada also promised Ukraine four combat-ready Leopard tanks to support it in warding off Russian forces. The tanks would be deployed "over the coming weeks," Defense Minister Anita Anand told a news conference, hinting that there could be more tanks to come at a later stage.

The Leopard 2 has a very good performance record worldwide. As it is used widely in many European nations, spare parts and ammunition are easily available. 

The heavy weaponry is likely to prove highly valuable to Ukraine as it plans counteroffensives to repel Russian troops entrenched in the east and south.

Reversing course, US, Germany to send tanks to Ukraine

Here are other updates on the war in Ukraine on Thursday, January 26:

Russian drone and missile strikes kill 11 

A barrage of Russian drone and missile strikes on Ukraine killed a total of 11 people on Thursday, a State Emergency Service spokesperson said, as Ukraine declared a nationwide air raid alert.

Eleven more were injured in the attacks, Civil Defence agency spokesperson Olexander Khorunshchyi said. The toll included the first attack-related death in the capital this year, the Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

In an interview with DW, he said Moscow was trying to "destroy normal life," but that Ukrainians were prepared to die for their freedom.

"We defend right now our homes, our country," he said. "And please don't forget, we defend not just our homes, we defend also the same values — European, modern, democratic values."

Russian forces fired over 50 missiles and some two dozen kamikaze drones on 11 regions across Ukraine, of which 47 were intercepted. Some 35 buildings were damaged.

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko on Russia's missile attacks

Several infrastructure sites were also hit, said Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko, causing power cuts in the regions of Odesa, Kyiv and Vinnytsia.

Ukrainian air defenses shot down 15 cruise missiles en route to the Kyiv area, the head of the city's administration, Serhii Popko, said.

The Russian military has been firing missiles and drones at critical infrastructure, notably energy facilities, since October. 

 People sheltering in the Kyiv subway during the air-raid alert
People are sheltering in the Kyiv subway during the air-raid alertImage: Daniel Cole/AP Photo/picture alliance

US labels Russia's Wagner group a criminal organization

The US Treasury has imposed further sanctions on Russian private military company the Wagner group, which is accused of helping the Russian military in its war on Ukraine.

The US Treasury department designated the group as a "significant transnational criminal organization." The designation freezes any assets Wagner might have in the US and bars US citizens from providing the group with funds, goods or services.

The US Treasury's latest sanctions also target six individuals and 11 other entities accused of supporting Russian activities in Ukraine.

“Today’s expanded sanctions on Wagner, as well as new sanctions on their associates and other companies enabling the Russian military complex, will further impede Putin’s ability to arm and equip his war machine.”

The US department also accused Wagner of committing crimes beyond Ukraine.

"Wagner personnel have engaged in an ongoing pattern of serious criminal activity, including mass executions, rape, child abductions, and physical abuse in the Central African Republic (CAR) and Mali," it said.

Russia bans independent news website Meduza

Russian prosecutors have banned Meduza, an independent Russian-language news website, accusing it of posing a security "threat."

The Latvia-based website was deemed an "undesirable" entity inside Russia, which effectively outlaws it in the country.

"It has been established that its activities pose a threat to the foundations of the constitutional order and the security of the Russian Federation," prosecutors said in a statement.

Set up in 2014, the website's Latvian location was an effort to circumvent Russian censorship.

In 2021, Moscow branded it a "foreign agent." But declaring it an "undesirable" entity takes things one step further, as any Russians who maintain ties with the website can now be subject to fines or even prison terms of up to six years.

Russia has further tightened its censorship over media since its invasion of Ukraine last year, blocking several outlets inside the country.

German citizen arrested on suspicion of passing intelligence to Russia

German police have arrested a man who is suspected of helping to hand over sensitive information to Russia, the prosecutor general's office said on Thursday.

The man, identified only as Arthur E., is said to be an associate of Carsten L., an employee at Germany's foreign intelligence service (BND) who was arrested in December for allegedly spying for Russia, the prosecutors said in a statement.

Arthur E. was arrested Sunday upon his arrival at the Munich airport from the United States and came before a judge at the top criminal court on Monday, the prosecutors said.

The investigation of Arthur E., a German citizen, was conducted in close cooperation between the BND and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the statement said.

German authorities have warned that Russian espionage activities are likely to increase amid tensions between Moscow and the West over the former's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Kremlin says tank deliveries by the West are 'direct involvement'

Russia has expressed further outrage at the news that various Western countries, including Germany, the US and the UK, are planning to send main battle tanks to help Ukraine defend itself against Moscow's invasion.

"European capitals and Washington constantly give statements that sending various types of weapons, including tanks, in no way means their involvement in hostilities. We strongly disagree with this. In Moscow, this is perceived as direct involvement in the conflict and we see that this is growing," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Germany on Wednesday agreed to send its Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine after much hesitation, partly over fears that such a move could cause Moscow to further escalate the conflict.

Russian officials have indeed made remarks to that effect, with Sergei Nechayev, Russia's ambassador to Germany, on Wednesday saying Berlin's decision took "the conflict to a new level of confrontation."

Germany greenlights tank delivery to Ukraine

Zelenskyy again rules out negotiations without Russian withdrawal

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has once more said he is not prepared to negotiate with Russia unless Moscow withdraws its troops.

"It is not interesting for me. Not interesting to meet, not interesting to speak," he said in English in comments to British broadcaster Sky News.

"They don't want talks, and that was the case even before the invasion. [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin decided so," Zelenskyy said, adding that he believed Putin wanted to invade other countries after Ukraine.

"After a full-scale invasion, for me, he is a nobody," he said.

In September last year, Zelenskyy banned negotiations with Putin by decree.

Poland to receive first US Abrams tanks in spring: Minister

Poland's defense minister, Mariusz Blaszczak, said the Polish army will take delivery of 58 Abrams battle tanks from the United States in spring.

This follows Washington's announcement on Wednesday that it would also send Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

"This spring we will receive the first Polish Abrams, which will be used by the Polish army," Blaszczak told public broadcaster Polskie Radio 1. "This year, 58 Abrams will arrive in Poland."

More DW coverage on the war in Ukraine

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that complaints against Russia from Ukraine and the Netherlands pertaining to the downing of commercial airline Flight MH17 should go to trial.  DW looks at the decision and whether it will have any real consequences.

tj/kb (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)