Germany announced Wednesday that it would send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, overcoming its reluctance to send heavy weapons that Kyiv considers necessary to defeat Russia.
“The decision complements our well-known support for Ukraine to the best of our ability. We are acting in a closely coordinated manner at the international level,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a statement.
Sweden announced that it currently has no plans to send Leopard 2 combat tanks to Ukraine, but does not rule out sending them in the future.
“Currently, there are no preparations for donating tanks from Sweden, but we do not rule out that this will happen at a later stage,” Swedish Defense Minister Pal Johnson told the “Svenska Dagbladet” newspaper. He had already told Swedish radio last Friday that there were generally no objections to sending tanks to Ukraine.
Germany wants to deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and also allows countries like Poland to do so. The Swedish army has about 120 “Leopard-2” tanks, also known as “Stridsvagen 122” in Sweden.
Media reports said Norway is also considering sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
The newspaper “Aftenposten” that the government in Oslo, is currently studying this. She hasn’t made a decision yet.
And the Kremlin announced earlier Wednesday that if Western countries provide Ukraine with heavy tanks, these mechanisms will be destroyed on the battlefield.
“Technologically, the plan is a failure,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “This is an overestimation of the capabilities that will be added to the Ukrainian army.”
“These tanks will burn like all the others. They are just very expensive,” he added.
The Kremlin offered a range of responses to plans by Kyiv’s allies to bolster Ukrainian forces with Leopard tanks.
Peskov declared earlier this week that any supplies of German tanks to Ukraine would leave an “indelible mark” on bilateral relations between Moscow and Berlin.
Before that, he said, Western weapons sent to Ukraine would only prolong the conflict and ultimately exacerbate the suffering of Ukrainian civilians.
On Wednesday, Russian forces announced progress in Bakhmut, the epicenter of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where battles are taking place in some neighborhoods of the city, according to an official in the Russian forces.
Russian news agencies quoted an official in the Donetsk Republic, Denis Pushilin, as saying, “Fierce battles are taking place in Bakhmut. The fighting is taking place in a location on the border and another in neighborhoods that were still under enemy control recently.”
He explained that the Russian forces and the Wagner Group are “advancing”.
Bakhmut, which had a population of 70,000 before the war, has been subjected since the summer to repeated attacks by Russian forces, who have not succeeded so far in breaching the Ukrainian defenses.--
And the city, the largest part of which was destroyed, and experts do not agree on its strategic importance, has become in recent months the site in which both sides suffered heavy losses.-
According to Pushilin, the breach announced by Russia earlier in January in Solidar (North) “played a pivotal role” in the current advance in Bakhmut.
He added that the capture of this city “made it possible to cut off supplies to the enemy and partly to take control of areas” from which the Ukrainians were shelling Russian positions.
On Tuesday evening, the commander of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, announced through his media office that “the aim of capturing Bakhmut is to destroy the Ukrainian army on the outskirts of the city and prevent any attack in all directions.”
He emphasized that “all combat-ready units in the Ukrainian Armed Forces are sent to Bakhmut and the Wagner Group destroys them, which secures operational opportunities in other directions of the front.”
According to the Institute for the Study of War, a US-based think tank, “Russian forces made limited gains in Bakhmut”. He also revealed information about an ongoing Russian offensive in Vogledar to the south.
For its part, the Ukrainian army admitted to withdrawing from Solidar in the east of the country, after Moscow announced its seizure two weeks ago.
“After difficult battles for months, the Ukrainian forces withdrew from the city to equipped positions,” said the military spokesman in eastern Ukraine, Sergei Cherevaty, refusing to specify the date of the withdrawal.
In another context, sources stated that the Russian government commissioned the Prison Service to build 25 penal colonies in the Ukrainian regions that have been annexed since the beginning of the war.
According to an order from the Russian government on Tuesday, 12 prisons will be built in the Donetsk region, seven in Luhansk, three in the occupied part of the Kherson region, and two in the Zaporizhia region, where an open prison camp will also be built.
On the other hand, a military expert from the Center for Security Studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich said that Russia has overcome a stage of weakness in its war against Ukraine.
“We are heading towards a situation in which combat tanks play an important role in terms of defense and counter-attacks,” researcher Niklas Masur said in statements to the German News Agency (dpa), explaining that since last fall Russia has improved its position, for example through Build defensive lines.
The expert explained that modernizing Ukrainian tanks has become more difficult now, because Russia has destroyed many factories and production lines for tank ammunition, adding that NATO countries have already made available old reserves to Ukraine, but Western combat tanks have become like the German-made Leopard tanks. Or “Abrams” from the United States is currently in focus.
Masur said that Ukraine could equip a Western-style tank brigade with at least 100 Western tanks, adding: “But combat tanks are not a miracle weapon. Well delivered, explaining that different versions of the same tank type mean additional challenges.
“If Ukraine is to be able to defend itself in the long term, it is important that the logistics system not be overly complex,” said Masur, explaining that it could be particularly beneficial to Ukraine if parts of Western tank components are maintained and repaired partly outside borders — as is the case. Already with artillery pieces.
Regarding the course of the war, the military expert said: “Ukraine carried out its previous counter-attacks in stages of Russia’s weakness, especially in the fall, but since then Russia has strengthened itself and has a dominant hand at the leadership level,” adding that Ukraine also cannot rely on “the aspects of Russian shortcomings in the first year of the war will necessarily be repeated.