Europe 1 with AFP
6:08 p.m., January 25, 2023
Leopard heavy tanks, and Abrams tanks to help kyiv. As expected, Chancellor Olaf Scholz has validated the deliveries of Leopard heavy tanks to Ukraine, which insistently demands them to defend itself against the Russian invasion. Berlin will also deliver 14 Leopard 2A6 tanks. A few hours later, the United States formalized the delivery of 31 Abrams tanks to kyiv.
For its part, the Kremlin has already warned that these tanks were going to “burn”. On the ground, the Ukrainian army admitted to having ceded the town of Soledar to the Russians. Follow the situation live.
The main information to remember:
- US to deliver 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine
- Germany authorizes the sending of Leopard 2 tanks to lend a hand to kyiv
- Berlin will send 14 Leopard 2A6 tanks to Ukraine
- Moscow has already warned that Western tanks will “burn”
- Ukrainian military admits ceding Soledar to Russian forces
US to deliver 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine
Washington will deliver 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine to help fight the Russian invasion, a senior US official announced on Wednesday, after weeks of dithering. “The United States will send 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine”, “in line with our efforts to provide Ukraine with the capabilities it needs to continue to better defend itself”, he said. he told reporters.
New dismissals after the corruption scandal
New senior Ukrainian officials were dismissed from their posts on Wednesday, the day after a series of dismissals even in the presidential administration amid a corruption scandal linked to the supply of the army. The Ukrainian public prosecutor’s office announced in a press release the departure “at their own request” of five regional prosecutors in the regions of Zaporijjia (south), Kirovograd (center), Poltava, Sumy and Cherniguiv (north).
Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on Facebook on Wednesday that the head of the army’s procurement department, Bodgan Khmelnytsky, has also been sacked, after being suspended in December.
Spain follows Germany
Spain is “willing” to send Leopard 2 heavy tanks to Ukraine and train Ukrainian soldiers in their use, Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles assured on Wednesday after the announcement of the German green light for their delivery, without specifying the number of tanks potentially concerned.
Ukraine hails ‘Berlin’s first step’
The Ukrainian presidency on Wednesday hailed “a first step” after the green light from Berlin for the delivery of 14 Leopard tanks while urging the West to provide it with many more against the Russian army. “A first step has been taken”, commented on Telegram Andriï Iermak, the head of the presidential administration demanding that an international “coalition” provide heavy tanks to his country. “We need a lot of Leopards,” he summed up. For his part, President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was “sincerely grateful”.
German main battle tanks, further broadening of defense support & training missions, green light for partners to supply similar weapons. Just heard about these important & timely decisions in a call with @OlafScholz. Sincerely grateful to the Chancellor and all our friends in .
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) January 25, 2023
Will France also deliver heavy tanks?
France “welcomes” the German green light to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine, believing that it “prolongs and amplifies” the support “committed” by Paris with the delivery of lighter AMX10-RC armored vehicles, said Wednesday the Elysee. The French government has not yet made a decision about sending its own Leclerc tanks, a hypothesis that the president Emmanuel Macron did not rule out.
“Nothing is excluded and we are mobilized to support them over the long term,” said Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne during the current affairs session in the Senate. “Regarding the Leclerc tanks, we are continuing the analysis with the Minister of the Armed Forces”. Paris had announced on January 4 the dispatch of “light combat tanks”, followed in the wake of a similar decision by Germany and the United States.
On the subject of Leclerc tanks – a type of material comparable to the German Leopard – President Macron assured Sunday that “nothing” was “excluded”. But he issued three criteria: “that it is not escalatory”, “that it can provide real and effective support” to the Ukrainians taking into account the training times, and that it does not weaken the French defense capabilities .
According to French officials, if the reflections in progress have made it possible to establish that the sending of this type of tanks would not be “escalatory”, the discussions are still in progress on the other two criteria. These officials seem at this stage reserved on the usefulness of sending Leclercs, whose training times are long and which exist in Europe in much smaller numbers than the Leopards. In any case, no decision on this subject is expected in the very short term, we warn in Paris.
France must also speed up discussions with Italy to deliver a medium-range surface-to-air defense system MAMBA to Ukraine: the French Minister for the Armed Forces Sébastien Lecornu will go to Rome on Friday to make progress on this file. It is also studying the supply of additional Crotale missile batteries.
Green light from Berlin for the delivery of Leopard 2 to kyiv
Berlin is giving the go-ahead for the delivery of Leopard tanks to Ukraine, German government spokesman Seffen Hebestreit said in a statement on Wednesday. Germany, for its part, will deliver 14 Leopard 2A6 tanks to Ukraine from Bundeswehr stocks and will authorize countries that so wish to supply kyiv with the tanks they have.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also welcomed Germany’s “good decision”, which will “strengthen Ukraine’s defensive capacity” against the Russian invasion. The conservative leader reacted on Twitter to “the good decision taken by our NATO allies and friends to send combat tanks to Ukraine”, adding: “Alongside the Challenger 2 (the tanks recently promised by London, editor’s note ), they will strengthen the defensive capacity of Ukraine”.
The right decision by NATO Allies and friends to send main battle tanks to Ukraine. Alongside Challenger 2s, they will strengthen Ukraine’s defensive firepower.
Together, we are accelerating our efforts to ensure Ukraine wins this war and secures a lasting peace. https://t.co/55BKg7orfJ
—Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) January 25, 2023
The Kremlin’s response
Faced with a situation that seems to be tending towards a shipment of Western tanks, the Kremlin insisted that they were going to “burn”. The West “overestimates the potential that (tanks) could give to the Ukrainian army,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “These tanks will burn like all the others,” he added.
Soledar in Russian hands
On the ground, the Ukrainian army admitted on Wednesday that it had ceded the town of Soledar, in the east of the country, to the Russians, two weeks after the announcement of its capture by Moscow. “After months of difficult fighting (…) the Ukrainian armed forces left it” to “retreat to prepared positions”, military spokesman for the eastern zone Serguiï Tcherevaty told AFP, refusing however, to specify when this retreat took place.
Ukraine increases penalties for disobedience and desertion in the army
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday promulgated a law increasing the penalties incurred by the military for disobedience and desertion, in the midst of the Russian invasion, a text criticized by human rights defenders. According to the text published on the site of the Ukrainian Parliament which had adopted it in December, the facts concerned include the refusal to obey an order, threats against a commander, desertion and flight from the battlefield or the consumption of alcohol. In particular, it prohibits the courts from reducing sentences or granting conditional sentences to servicemen found guilty. This provision has drawn strong criticism even though the severity of penalties has not changed significantly under the new law.
Ukrainian soldiers face up to 12 years in prison for desertion, up to ten years for disobedience or refusal to fight and up to seven years for threatening a superior.