Slovenia will send Soviet T-72 tanks and receive German-made main battle tanks
The German government maintains its policy of not directly supplying heavy weapons, such as tanks or artillery, to Ukraine, but has launched an exchange with its NATO partners and the European Union, which will immediately provide the country invaded by Russia with war material. of this type from states such as Slovenia, Bulgaria or Slovakia, among others, which have a modern arsenal of Soviet origin. “We talk about tanks, we talk about armored vehicles and the different possibilities that these countries provide them,” Federal Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said Thursday. Berlin’s new initiative is for other NATO or EU countries to deliver Soviet-made heavy weapons to Ukraine and in return Germany provides them with similar modern weaponry. “We are in talks and this can go very quickly,” the minister told the RTL television station, stressing that the first exchanges will take place in the coming days.
Like the Federal Chancellor, the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, the Minister of Defense reiterated that the Bundeswehr, the federal army, cannot transfer heavy weapons to Ukraine if it wants to guarantee the defense of the country and fulfill its duties in the Atlantic Alliance. “I am committed to our NATO partners,” Lambrecht said. The new initiative of the Social Democratic minister takes place after several days of open criticism of Scholz for his indecision when it comes to complying with the demands of kyiv, which has insistently demanded that Germany urgently send battle tanks, armored vehicles and heavy artillery . The federal chancellor has been pressured even by his green and liberal partners in the government coalition, both in favor of providing Ukraine with the weapons it demands, even at the cost of weakening Germany’s defensive capacity by giving up material from its army.
Several German media report that the first exchange will take place with Slovenia. The small former Yugoslav republic will deliver Soviet T-72 tanks to the Ukrainian army and in exchange will receive light tanks of the “Marder” type and armored “Fuchs”, both of German manufacture. The T-72 tank is a vehicle that the Ukrainian army itself has and is familiar with. Slovenia apparently wants to take advantage of the occasion to modernize its army with German military equipment and also wants to receive the «Leopard 2» main battle tank, the «Boxer» wheeled armored vehicle and the «Puma» tank. Lambrecht also confirmed that Germany will instruct Ukrainian soldiers in the handling of the “Panzerhaubitze 2000”, a heavy self-propelled howitzer of national manufacture. Several units of the heavy tracked gun are going to be delivered by the Netherlands to the Ukraine and Germany assumes the training of its operation. Germany cannot provide them, since the Bundeswehr does not have them, commented Lambrecht, who stressed that “we will help where we can instruct in the handling” of weapons manufactured in this country.
“We need heavy artillery to be able to win this war”
Twice the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, had to be asked if Mariupol has already fallen into the hands of Russia, as Vladimir Putin announced this Thursday. In the end, he admitted that he did, with the exception of the Azovstal steelworks, an enclave that is still under the control of his troops. And he used that example to demand that Western powers send him more weapons, because the current ones “are not enough.”
The Ukrainian leader needs heavy artillery, tanks and planes. “The final battle is going to be fought in Donbas. And we need more weapons to repel a large army like the Russian one, with thousands of tanks and missiles falling everywhere. We have established a defense perimeter, but we need those heavy weapons to win the war. We cannot maintain our positions with our soldiers alone,” he said Thursday after meeting with President Pedro Sánchez and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.
He also took the opportunity to emphasize the great differences that separate him from Putin. “The Russians don’t care about their soldiers, we do. And without weapons we cannot protect them », he reiterated, before acknowledging that the situation in Mariupol is desperate. “We are trying to establish humanitarian corridors and carry out an exchange of wounded, because we have more than 400 in our power, but the Russians block our proposals,” emphasizing that they are also trying to recover and return corpses.
“Negotiations (with the mediation of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan) are not advancing,” he added. Zelensky once again demanded the total embargo on Russian gas and oil (which reported some one billion dollars a day to the Putin regime). And he closed an appearance packed with veiled thanks and reproaches with a “we will win the war.”
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