“Free the Leopards.” A protest was held in the German capital calling for the transfer of tanks to Ukraine
In Berlin, the action is being held near the office of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Getty writes that many participants of the action are Ukrainians who came to the rally with their flags, photos of leopards, and posters with the slogans “Tanks for Ukraine,” “Free the Leopards!”, “Russia is a terrorist state,” “Save Ukraine!.”
In addition, the network published a video from a rally in Berlin, where protesters can be heard chanting: “Release the Leopards immediately!”
The organizer of the action, Vladyslava Vorobyova, said on the air of the Ukrainian telethon that about 500 people came to it, including many Germans.
On Friday, January 20, the eighth international meeting in the Ramstein format took place, during which representatives of 54 countries discussed military aid to Ukraine. Germany has not decided on the transfer of Leopard tanks to Ukraine, but representatives of countries that have German Leopard 2s held a meeting on the fields of Ramstein.
According to Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, the participants of the meeting agreed that the countries that are armed with Leopard 2 can start training courses for Ukrainian tank crews.
NATO and the US attitude
Lloyd Austin III, the US Secretary of Defense, for his part, briefly mentioned Poland’s initiatives:
“There are tanks in these proposals [for Ukraine]. For example, Poland continues to offer tanks and will provide tanks. Other countries also offer to provide tank capacity. But as you heard, Germany has not decided on the Leopard tanks.”
In response to a question from journalists about whether the United States should give Ukraine numerous tanks to clear up Germany’s decision on the Leopard 2, Lloyd Austin said: “There is no connection between the provision of Abrams and Leopards, so the term “unblocking” is not a question.” Additionally, German Defense Minister Pistorius concurs that there is no connection between the decisions made by Berlin and Washington regarding the shipment of tanks to Ukraine.
The United States contends that because the Abrams’ fuel and maintenance requirements are so dissimilar from any other equipment Ukrainian troops employ, using them would be logistically challenging.
The NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, emphasized the significance of maintaining the existing equipment in Ukraine in addition to the issue of new weaponry packages:
“Yes, battle tanks are important, but all other types of equipment are also important. And in addition to adding new equipment, we also need to remember not only about the new but also that the older equipment that is already there must be functional. This means that ammunition is needed, spare parts are needed, repairs are needed, and training is needed.”
Poland is ready to supply tanks
The Polish president announced on Wednesday that Poland has chosen to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine as part of an international coalition to play a leading role in achieving agreement among Western allies on such support.
Heavy military vehicles like the German-made Leopard 2, which would be a huge step up in Western backing for Ukraine, have been requested by Kyiv.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz avoided agreeing to the transfer of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine at the Davos summit on Wednesday. Still, he left the door open for a favorable decision at a special conference of western defense ministers on Friday.
He insisted that Germany will only act in conjunction with partners, a stance shared by Boris Pistorius, the incoming defense minister.
Nevertheless, the decision on the transfer of tanks may soon be decided, and Ukraine’s chances of receiving them have been the highest since the beginning of the invasion.