Allies Pile Pressure on Germany Over Tanks for Ukraine: Live Updates

Allies Pile Pressure on Germany Over Tanks for Ukraine: Live Updates

Credit…Nicole Tung for The New York Times

BRUSSELS — A number of countries announced new military aid packages for Ukraine on Thursday, the day before their defense ministers are to gather at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to coordinate their help for Ukraine.

The meeting in Germany will include officials from as many as 50 countries, chaired by the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Lloyd J. Austin III, and will focus on how to provide Ukraine the weapons it needs, including advanced Western tanks, to try to push back Russian troops from occupied territory in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine and some of its allies have been putting pressure on Germany to supply or authorize the export to Ukraine of its advanced Leopard 2 tanks, but Berlin wants Washington in particular to be part of a collective decision to send Western tanks.

To get a jump on the Ramstein gathering, Britain’s defense secretary, Ben Wallace, and his Estonian counterpart, Hanno Pevkur, hosted a meeting of their colleagues from the Baltics and Central Europe at an army base in Estonia to announce more military aid for Ukraine.

Some of the donations listed in the so-called Tallinn Pledge — which was also signed by Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Slovakia — had already been announced, including Britain’s commitment to send Challenger 2 tanks. Others appeared new, including another round of Brimstone missiles from Britain and S-60 anti-aircraft guns with 70,000 pieces of ammunition from Poland.

The countries said in a joint statement that they were committed to “collectively pursuing delivery of an unprecedented set of donations” in support of Ukraine.

“Together we will continue supporting Ukraine to move from resisting to expelling Russian forces from Ukrainian soil,” the statement said.

Western officials say that Ukraine has only a narrow window before an anticipated Russian springtime offensive, and they have been working to speed heavy, sophisticated weapons to Kyiv.

In Brussels, after a meeting of top NATO defense officials known as the Military Committee, its chairman, Adm. Rob Bauer of the Netherlands, and the top American officer in Europe, Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli, said that quality tanks are important for Ukraine as part of what they called “a balance of all systems.”

“There is not a particular weapon system that is a silver bullet,” General Cavoli said. “In the end, attack simply comes down to a balance between firepower, mobility and protection,” and tanks can play an important role in military success.

The officers were careful to say that individual nations were making their own decisions about supplying Ukraine with particular weapons systems, but they made it clear that the Russians were rebuilding their own military stocks.

“In a war like it is being fought, every type of equipment is necessary,” Admiral Bauer said. “And the Russians are fighting with tanks. So the Ukrainians need tanks as well.”

Details of fresh weapons aid have begun to emerge ahead of the Ramstein meeting, including plans by the United States for a $2.5 billion package that includes nearly 100 Stryker combat vehicles, and a pledge from Sweden to deliver NLAW anti-tank missiles and CV90 infantry fighting vehicles in its largest equipment package to date.

Estonia said the package it announced on Thursday as part of the Tallinn Pledge was also its largest military aid package yet to Ukraine, including remote fire and anti-tank weapons as well as ammunition worth a total of 113 million euros, or about $122 million. Military assistance to Ukraine will increase to 370 million euros, or slightly more than 1 percent of Estonia’s gross domestic product.

“The free world must continue to provide arms assistance to Ukraine, and do so at much greater scale and speed,” Estonia’s prime minister, Kaja Kallas, said in a statement. “All countries must look into their stockpiles and ensure that industries are able to produce more and faster.”

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