WASHINGTON: The billions of dollars in new weapons for Ukraine announced this month — including British tanks, American combat vehicles and howitzers from Denmark and Sweden — testify to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s failure to dividing the NATO allies after almost a year of war. But small but significant fractures become too big to hide.
The differences center on strategy for the year ahead and the more immediate question of what Ukraine needs in the coming months as both warring sides prepare for major spring offensives. And although most of these debates are taking place behind closed doors, Britain’s impatience with the current pace of aid and Germany’s refusal to provide Leopard 2 tanks bound for Ukraine broke into public view this week.
Germany faced a strong backlash from its allies on Saturday over its refusal to supply Ukraine with its famous Leopard tanks to boost its combat capability in the nearly year-long war with Russia. On Saturday, several allies echoed the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky saying that tanks were essential to Ukraine’s fight with its much larger neighbor. In a joint statement – ​​and a rare public criticism of Europe’s leading power – the foreign ministers of the three Baltic states said they “call on Germany to now supply Leopard tanks to Ukraine. ”
“This is necessary to stop Russian aggression, help Ukraine and quickly restore peace in Europe. Germany, as Europe’s leading power, has a special responsibility in this regard,” reads the statement, tweeted by Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics.
When Britain’s new foreign secretary, James Cleverly, visited Washington this week, he gathered journalists for lunch and argued that it was possible for Ukraine to achieve a “victory” in the war this year if the allies move quickly to exploit Russia’s weaknesses. . Polish, Baltic and Finnish officials broadly agree with the British assessment.
US officials have pushed back, saying it is essential to pace aid and not flood Ukraine with equipment its troops cannot yet operate. And they argue that in a world of limited resources, it would be wise to keep something in reserve for what the Pentagon thinks is likely to be a never-ending conflict, in which Russia will attempt to wear down Ukraine with relentless barrages and tactics. reminiscent of the world war. I and World War II. On Friday, following a meeting in Germany of dozens of nations contributing the war effort, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, repeated the assessment he has been offering since ‘fall. “For this year, it would be very, very difficult to eject Russian forces militarily,” he said. The best that can be hoped for is to squeeze Russia into a diplomatic negotiation – the way most wars end – although senior US diplomats say they have little expectation of Putin entering into serious talks. .
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spent several days trying to persuade the Germans to ship German-made Leopard 2 tanks, or at least allow Poland and other countries that use the tanks to re-export them. . But as the meeting with dozens of allies ended, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius announced that no deal had been reached, despite saying they would take a decision “as soon as possible”. ”

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