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Ukraine's Zelenskyy urges allies to deliver more weapons

January 19, 2023

The Ukrainian president has criticized Germany for hesitancy over the delivery of Leopard battle tanks. European Council President Charles Michel is in Kyiv for talks.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hands Ukraine state award to European Council President Charles Michel
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for increased weapons deliveries in a joint press conference with European Council President Charles MichelImage: Efrem Lukatsky/AP/picture alliance

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday urged Kyiv's allies to supply Ukraine with more arms as soon as possible.

He said that the deliveries would help guarantee the security of Ukraine and Europe.

Earlier in the day, he criticized Berlin for hesitancy over whether to supply Kyiv with Leopard battle tanks.

Ukraine's president made the comments at a joint news conference with European Council President Charles Michel.

Michel said he was "back in Kyiv to discuss all strands of cooperation ... May 2023 be the year of victory and peace."

Before he arrived in Kyiv, the European Council president said that he would discuss with Zelenskyy ways to help make Ukraine "stronger and more powerful."

Michel said on Wednesday that he was personally in favor of providing Ukraine with tanks.

"I firmly believe that tanks must be delivered," Michel tweeted. "We want to support you because we are aware that the next few weeks may be decisive for what comes next."

Zelenskyy criticizes German tank hesitation

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy criticized German government hesitation to supply modern Leopard tanks again, with reports indicating Berlin will only provide them if the US offers its Abrams tanks as well. 

On Thursday, Zelenskyy, via video conference, told a panel that included Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the former UK leader Boris Johnson on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that he "would like to thank again our partners."

He added, "At the same time, here are times where we shouldn't hesitate or shouldn't compare. When someone says, 'I will give tanks if someone else will also share tanks.' I don't think this is the right strategy to go with."

Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, also urged Western allies to hurry up and supply tanks and air defences to Kyiv. He said Ukraine was paying in lives at the front for the slow pace of discussions in foreign capitals.

"We have no time, the world does not have this time," Yermak wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Germany's Scholz under pressure to deliver tanks

After meeting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, US Congressman Gregory Meeks, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the German leader wanted the two countries to work in tandem.

"It's basically that it's got to be the United States and Germany. There's no question about that," Meeks said. "It was clear to me that the United States and Germany were having dialogue and conversations and that they were going to lock and stay together."

Scholz is under increasing pressure from his European allies to authorize the export of the German-made Leopard tanks ahead of a meeting of Ukraine's allies on Friday to discuss new arms supplies.

A recent YouGov survey conducted for the German news agency DPA showed 43% of respondents said they opposed exporting tanks to Ukraine, while 39% said they were in favor. Another 16% did not express a position.

Ukraine's foreign and defense ministers also urged Kyiv's Western allies to "considerably" boost arms deliveries to their war-torn country. They called on countries that have Leopard tanks, including Germany and Turkey, to send them to Ukraine.

"We appeal to all partner states that have already provided military assistance or are planning to provide it with a call to considerably reinforce their practical contribution to strengthening Ukraine's ability to defend itself," Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said in a joint statement.

sdi,dh/ar,rt (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)