Tanques Leopard, de fabricação alemã, são entregues pela Alemanha à Eslováquia em BratislavaTanques Leopard, de fabricação alemã, são entregues pela Alemanha à Eslováquia em Bratislava

(Reuters) – Ukraine called on Thursday for the West to finally send heavy tanks to the country, as the defense chiefs of the United States and Germany head toward a discussion over weapons that Kiev says could decide the fate of the war.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was in Germany on Thursday to meet with new Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, just hours after Pistorius took office.

The next day, both will meet with dozens of allies to pledge arms to Ukraine at Ramstein Air Base, a meeting billed as a chance to provide weapons to change the momentum of the war in 2023.

Billions of dollars in military aid are expected, and countries such as Canada, the Netherlands, and Sweden have already announced new packages of armored vehicles and air defenses. But the success of the meeting may depend on heavy tanks, which Kiev says it needs to defend itself against Russian attacks and reclaim occupied land.

“We have no time, the world has no time,” wrote Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, on the messaging app Telegram on Thursday.

“The issue of tanks for Ukraine needs to be closed as soon as possible,” he said. “We are paying for the slowness with the lives of our Ukrainian people. It should not be this way.”

A big tank promise requires resolving a standoff between Washington and Berlin, which has so far prevented allies from sending their Leopard 2 tanks, used by armed forces across Europe.

Washington and many Western allies say the Leopards — which Germany manufactured by the thousands during the Cold War and exported to its allies — are the only suitable option available in large enough numbers.

A German government source said Berlin would withdraw its objections if Washington sent its own Abrams tanks. U.S. officials say the Abrams, which run on powerful turbine engines, use too much fuel, complicating Kiev’s logistical system for keeping many of them supplied at the front.

Poland and Finland have already said they would send Leopards if Germany lifted its veto, and other countries have indicated they are ready to do so as well. The UK increased the pressure by breaking the taboo on heavy tanks last week by offering a squadron of its fleet of Challengers, although far fewer of them are available than Leopards.

Germany has been reluctant to send offensive weapons that could be seen as escalating the conflict. Many of its Western allies say the concern is misplaced, with Russia showing no signs of backing down from its violent attack on Ukraine.

Colin Kahl, the Pentagon’s top policy adviser, said Wednesday that Abrams tanks will probably not be included in Washington’s next $2 billion military aid package, which will be headed by the Stryker and Bradley armored vehicles.

*** Translatedby the DEFCONPress FYI team ***

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