Wednesday, November 30

Germany to send Gepard main battle tanks to Ukraine


German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht during a meeting of defense ministers at the US air base in Ramstein. / EF

The US will move “heaven and earth” to help Ukraine

The Secretary of Defense of the United States, Lloyd Austin, assured today that he will move “heaven and earth” to help Ukraine in the invading war unleashed by Russia. “Ukraine clearly believes that it can succeed and everyone here thinks the same,” Austin said during the opening of the conference of defense ministers convened by the Washington government at the US Ramstein air base, the largest of the estate outside its territory and located in the German Palatinate. The former general stressed that the Ukrainian defending forces have so far managed to stop and even push back “courageously” the Russian troops since the conflict began and was convinced that they can emerge victorious from it. Austin referred to two historic battles of World War II, the one on the island of Iwo Jima, which the United States won from Japan after 36 days of fighting, and the one in the Ardennes on Europe’s Western Front, where the Allies inflicted a major defeat. to Nazi Germany.

The meeting of the “Consultative Defense Group for Ukraine” convened by the US Secretary of Defense, is attended by numerous ministers of the branch, senior military officers from NATO and other related countries such as Finland, Japan or Israel, although some of them connect by videoconference. The Ukrainian Defense Minister, Olexij Resnikov, is also in Ramstein, as is the Secretary General of the Atlantic Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg. Shortly before the meeting began, the German head, Christine Lambrecht, announced that the executive of the Federal Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, had put an end to his reluctance to send heavy military material to Ukraine. Lambrecht pointed out that the Berlin government has authorized the supply of about 50 “Gepard” type battle tanks to the Ukrainian army. She also stressed that Germany will be in charge of training the Ukrainian military in the handling of the heavy self-propelled howitzer «Panzerhaubitze 2000», of which the Netherlands will deliver several units to kyiv.

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“Together with the Netherlands we will participate in the training for the handling of self-propelled howitzers and the shipment of ammunition to Ukraine, since we all know that artillery is an essential factor in this conflict,” Lambrecht told the press. He further noted that Germany will provide other heavy weapons through NATO partners, who will deliver Soviet-designed tanks and artillery to Ukraine and receive similar German-made military hardware in return. “It is so that Ukraine has quick access to heavy weapons that do not require long training” and whose troops already handle it on a regular basis, declared the Social Democratic politician, who commented that there are already contacts with several Eastern European countries that are members of the EU or NATO. “They will deliver Soviet-produced material to Ukraine and we will take care of filling those gaps for them. This route can give much more of itself and we are willing to continue, “said Lambrecht.

The fifty Gepard tanks that Berlin has authorized to supply Ukraine belonged to the Bundeswehr, the federal army, and are currently in the possession of their manufacturer, the arms company Krauss Maffei Wegmann (KMW), which was reviewing them for resale to Brazil. and Qatar, although delivery to Ukraine will now be prioritized. KMW already announced last February that it had these vehicles and that their set-up could be carried out in a very short time. Berlin had ignored that offer until it has now changed its policy of refusing to hand over heavy weapons, something that had led to an avalanche of criticism of Scholz from kyiv, allied countries and its own green and liberal coalition partners. The “Gepard” is built on the same chassis as the “Leopard” main battle tank, has radar and two 35mm cannons, and engages targets on the ground and in the air.

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