Zelensky blasts German hesitation on supplying tanks

DAVOS, Switzerland (AFP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky criticized hesitation by Germany about supplying its modern Leopard tanks, with reports saying Berlin will only provide them if the United States offers its Abrams tanks as well.

“There 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,’” Zelensky told an audience in Davos by videolink.

“I don’t think this is the right strategy to go with.”

He also reiterated his intention of reclaiming Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, as he called on his Western partners to provide him with more weaponry.

“Our objective is to liberate all of our territories,” he said, speaking in Ukrainian. “Crimea is our land, our territory, our sea, and our mountains. Give us your weapons and we will bring our land back.”

Ukraine’s Western allies and arms suppliers are set to meet on Friday at the US-run Ramstein base in Germany.

“We need all the strength there is out there because we are fighting against all of this tyranny,” he said, adding: “We can not just do it (the fight) with motivation and morale.”

He compared weapons to a “vaccine against Russian tyranny.”

Asked about fighting on the frontlines, he said there was “no stagnation” but there was a “slowdown” during the winter.

Zelensky was also asked whether a helicopter crash that killed the country’s interior minister and 13 others on Wednesday near Kyiv was an “accident or something more sinister.”

“The investigation is ongoing. There are several theories and I’m not authorized to talk about any of them until the investigation is finished,” Zelensky replied.

Heavier weapons

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will convene a meeting of around 50 countries on Friday at the US-run Ramstein military base in Germany, including all 30 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance.

“The main message there (in Ramstein) will be more support and more advanced support, heavier weapons, and more modern weapons, because this is a fight for our values,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg told the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Many of Ukraine’s allies have announced plans to step up their military support to Kyiv this month despite the risk of antagonizing Russia, notably Britain, which became the first nation to pledge Western heavy tanks on Saturday.

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