Germany, US agree to send battle tanks to Ukraine

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Kyiv confirms its troops withdrawal from Soledar

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has agreed to supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 battle tanks, according to media reports, after weeks of mounting pressure on Berlin to give Kyiv the heavier weapons it says it needs to drive back invading Russian forces.

The news that Berlin will provide battle tanks to Kyiv comes as officials in the United States told media that Washington was also poised to start a process that would eventually send dozens of M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine’s front lines.

The expected tank deliveries come as Ukraine dismissed several senior officials as part of an anti-corruption drive, an issue that has become even more important given the need to keep Western backers onside.

While there was no official confirmation, officials in Kyiv hailed what they see as a possible gamechanger in a war that is now 11 months old – even if the rumoured tank numbers, in the dozens, would be short of the hundreds they say they need.

“A few hundred tanks for our tank crews …. This is what is going to become a real punching fist of democracy,” Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s administration, wrote on Telegram.

Zelenskiy, who turned 45 on Wednesday, again pressed Western allies to provide their most modern battle tanks, saying “the need is larger” in his nightly video address on Tuesday.

Germany and the United States have until now held back on providing heavy armour, wary of support that could give the Kremlin reason to widen the conflict.—Agencies