Day 330 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Germany is unwilling to Send Tanks for now, Sweden Sends Dozens of Elite ARCHER Systems (UPDATED)
Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
Sweden is sending dozens of armored vehicles and elite Archer howitzers to Ukraine
The Swedish government announced a new military aid package for Ukraine on Thursday, which will include armored infantry fighting vehicles and the Archer artillery system.
The package is worth SEK 4.3 billion (9 million) and will also include light, man-portable NLAW anti-tank weapons, mine clearance equipment and assault firearms.
"Ukraine's victory in this war is of almost indescribable importance," Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson told a news conference, adding that Ukraine was fighting for the freedom of all of Europe, Reuters reported. "This is one of the biggest reasons why so many countries are doing so much to help Ukraine right now. Moral support is important, but so is our joint security," he said.
Sweden will send around 50 of its Type 90 tracked armored infantry fighting vehicles. It is a platform for transporting up to eight infantrymen and is equipped with a 40mm automatic cannon.
The government did not specify how many Archer systems it will supply.
Sweden has 48 Archers, a vehicle-mounted self-propelled howitzer made by Bofors BAE that Ukraine has long shown interest in adding to its arsenal as it seeks to repel Russian forces.
Thanks to a computerized data entry system with the targets while the howitzer is in motion, it can fire three shots and leave the firing position before the first shell has hit the enemy.
Today in Davos, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister called Archer one of the most elite artillery systems in the world.
Ahead of the package unveiled on Thursday, Sweden announced around 5 billion Swedish kroner in military aid to Ukraine, as well as several tranches of humanitarian supplies.
Sweden currently holds the EU's rotating presidency and has applied to join NATO alongside Finland, a move that leaves behind decades of non-alignment following the invasion of Ukraine.
Tomorrow, defense leaders from around 50 countries and NATO will gather at Germany's Ramstein air base to discuss how to supply Kyiv with more weapons. The focus is expected to be whether Germany will send its Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine, or at least approve their transfer from third countries that are armed with them.
"There are no accidents during war": Zelensky on the helicopter crash that decapitated the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior
"There are no accidents in war." This is how Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky commented on the helicopter crash near Kyiv, in which the leadership of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the country was killed. Among the dead are Minister Denys Monastyrsky, First Deputy Minister Evgeni Enin and State Secretary Yuriy Lubkovich.
Ukraine does not claim that Russia is involved, but Zelensky said in a video address to the World Economic Forum in Davos that the tragedy occurred as a result of the war, the BBC clarifies. In his speech, the president urged his allies to quickly send more weapons ahead of another Russian offensive. "The time the free world uses to think is used by the terrorist state to kill," he explained. The remark was interpreted as a request to Germany to hurry up the delivery of the Leopard tanks it so desired, notes the BBC.
Berlin is unwilling to send the vehicles unless the US commits to providing its own Abrams battle tanks. The UK recently promised to send some of its tanks to Kyiv.
The head of the NATO military alliance said in Davos on Wednesday that Ukraine could expect to receive "more support, more advanced support, heavier weapons and more advanced weapons." Jens Stoltenberg said NATO member states would meet on Friday to discuss what military equipment could be sent to Kyiv.
The helicopter crashed on Wednesday near a kindergarten in Brovary, outside Kyiv, at around 08:30 a.m. local time (06:30 GMT). Among the dead is a child.
The 42-year-old Minister Monastyrsky was one of President Zelensky's longest-serving political advisers. He is the highest-ranking Ukrainian casualty since the beginning of the war. His death has affected the government in Kyiv, as the interior ministry has the vital task of maintaining security and directing the police during the war. He was a recognizable face for Ukrainians during the war, informing the public about the casualties caused by Russian missile strikes after the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
The deputy head of Ukraine's presidential office said Monastyrsky had traveled to a "hot spot" of the war. The Kharkiv police chief added that the ministerial team had traveled to meet him.
There is no indication that the crash was anything other than an accident. However, the State Security Service said it was looking into several possible causes - including sabotage, a technical malfunction or a violation of flight rules.
Key officials often fly by helicopter around Ukraine at tree-level to avoid detection, but this carries risks.
All that is now recognizable from the helicopter is a door panel and one of its rotors that landed on the roof of a car.
The US is preparing a large military package for Ukraine
The United States is poised to announce a major new weapons package for Ukraine on Friday as top military leaders from around the world gather in Germany to discuss how to help Kyiv in its fight against Russia, officials familiar with the matter said, Politico reported.
Although the next tranche will include additional artillery, ammunition and armored vehicles - possibly Stryker armored fighting vehicles - the US is not expected to sign a contract for US M1 Abrams tanks, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Biden administration currently has no plans to send the Abrams, the Army's 60-ton main battle tank, officials said.
The reluctance was due to logistical challenges and maintenance of the tanks, not concerns that transferring them could escalate the conflict, one of the US officials said. This person noted that the US had helped Ukraine acquire Soviet-era tanks and supported Britain's decision to send about a dozen of its Challenger 2 tanks.
The package is likely to include a number of Strykers, an eight-wheeled armored fighting vehicle manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems, as well as Small Diameter Bombs, which have a range of about 100 miles (160 km).
The meeting comes at a time when Kyiv has raised the alarm that Moscow is preparing to launch a new large-scale offensive to capture the capital. Ukrainian intelligence officials have warned that the Kremlin is planning a new mobilization of up to 500,000 conscripts, and on Monday Russia and Belarus began joint military exercises.
Pressured by Kyiv to send heavier weapons in recent weeks, Western nations have dramatically increased their pledges of new weapons to help Ukraine build new armored units for heavy fighting in the spring and summer. Late last year, the United States and the Netherlands agreed to spend million to upgrade about 90 Soviet-era T-72 tanks operated by the Czech Republic to be sent to Ukraine. Germany also pledged its Marder infantry fighting vehicle, and France the AMX-10 RC.
Canada will also provide 200 Canadian armored personnel carriers, Defense Minister Anita Anand announced during her visit to Kyiv.
This month, the US announced it would send 50 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, a tracked armored vehicle. The administration has already provided thousands of combat vehicles, including Humvees and mine-resistant vehicles, used to move troops to the battlefield.
Germany: We will give tanks... only if the Americans do
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed his readiness to allow delivery of Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine... only if the Americans agree to give their powerful Abrams battle tanks, writes Süddeutsche Zeitung, quoted by BTA.
This request by Scholz was strongly criticized by military experts. Many European countries have Leopards and they could coordinate the supply and repair of the tanks, while with the Abrams this process would be much slower.
During the conversation on Tuesday, Biden clarified that he has not yet made a decision on the matter.
According to the "Bild" newspaper, the chancellor wants Europe and the United States to supply tanks to Ukraine together, so that the Kremlin cannot split NATO.
The other countries that have Leopard tanks cannot provide them to Ukraine without permission from Germany, which produces them. Last week, Polish President Andrzej Duda expressed a desire to provide the Ukrainians with a Leopard 2 company as part of building an "international coalition".
On January 20, another meeting of the defense ministers of Western countries will take place at the American base in Ramstein, where further aid to Ukraine and especially the provision of Leopard tanks will be discussed. Germany will be represented at this meeting by the new Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius.
The Spanish Prime Minister declared for negotiations with Putin
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called for negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war in Ukraine in a comment at the World Economic Forum in Davos, DPA reported, quoted by BTA.
"It is important to maintain contact with Putin as well," Sanchez said in Davos yesterday.
"I strongly advocate that, for example, the French government and the German government ... take the lead here," he told CNN.
According to him, a return to negotiations with the participation of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine in the Norman format established before the start of the war would be possible.
The rest of the EU member states would support Paris and Berlin in such an initiative, Sanchez said.
Asked if Putin could interpret the West's willingness to talk as "weakness," Pedro Sanchez said: "No, I don't think so."
Earlier, the Foreign Minister of Spain, Jose Manuel Albares, expressed reservations about the possible delivery of Leopard battle tanks from his country to Ukraine.
The comments reflect differences on the subject within the Spanish government, DPA noted. Sanchez's center-left Spanish Socialist Workers Party is partnering with the smaller, more left-wing United We Can (Unidas Podemos) party, which has criticized arms supplies to Ukraine.
In June, according to media reports, Spain was considering deliveries of the older type - 2 A4 Leopard. Fifty-three of these tanks have been decommissioned and have been stored at a facility in Zaragoza since 2012.
After weeks of speculation about this delivery, Spain's Defense Minister Margarita Robles said in August that the tanks were in an "absolutely deplorable condition" and that they could no longer be repaired. This caused astonishment in military circles, the agency said.
Spain has a total of 108 Leopard 2 A4 tanks and 229 Leopard 2E tanks - a version of the 2A6 adapted to Spanish requirements, DPA reminds.
Putin says has “no doubt” Russia will win in Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that he had "no doubt" Moscow would emerge victorious in Ukraine, despite military setbacks in the nearly year-long offensive, reported Al Jazeera.
Speaking during a visit to a factory in St Petersburg that makes air defense systems, Putin said he had "no doubt" Russia would emerge victorious in the conflict - despite suffering a string of military setbacks in its now nearly year-long offensive. Victory is "guaranteed, I have no doubt about it," Putin told workers at a factory in Russia's second city Saint Petersburg, saying "the unity and solidarity of the Russian people, the courage and heroism of our fighters and, of course, the work of the military-industrial sector" will secure victory.
The statement comes as Ukraine grapples with the loss of its interior minister in a deadly helicopter crash.
Ukraine's interior minister Denys Monastyrsky is among at least 14 people killed after a helicopter crashed in a Kyiv suburb Wednesday, officials said. President Volodymyr Zelensky called the crash a "tragedy" and authorities have launched an investigation, reported CNN.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Ihor Klymenko, the national police chief, had been appointed acting interior minister.
Zelensky urged Western leaders to make faster decisions to counter Russia's war and support Kyiv with heavy weaponry, saying in virtual remarks at the World Economic Forum in Davos that "the tyranny is outpacing the democracy."
The US is expected to announce one of its largest military aid packages for Ukraine in coming days, according to officials. Kyiv has been pleading for modern tanks, a request the US is not yet willing to grant, despite the UK and Poland saying they will, reported CNN.
Earlier, Putin attended an event with veterans to mark the 80th anniversary of the lifting of the World War II siege of St Petersburg, then known as Leningrad, which Nazi German forces blockaded for nearly 900 days, reported Al Jazeera.
He told the war veterans Russia was fighting in Ukraine to defend ethnic Russians and Russian speakers, who Moscow alleges are subject to systematic discrimination in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Kyiv rejects that allegation and says the Kremlin has used it as a pretext for what is simply an aggressive land grab.
However, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow saw no prospects for peace talks and reiterated the Kremlin's position that there can be no negotiations with Zelensky's government.
Russia has said talks are possible only if Ukraine recognizes Moscow's claims to Ukrainian territory in the country's east and south. Kyiv says it will fight until Russia withdraws all of its troops from the country, reported Al Jazeera.
The New York Times: The US can give Ukraine the weapons to take back Crimea
The position of the US administration not to provide Kyiv with weapons that could effectively strike Crimea, where thousands of Russian soldiers and Russian military bases are stationed, is developing, and it is possible that the US will give Ukraine the weapons it needs to liberate Crimea, writes The New York Times.
According to the publication, Washington is softening its position, and the change in the view of the United States comes from the belief that if Ukraine proves to Moscow that its control over Crimea is threatened, this will strengthen Kyiv's position in future negotiations.
The other factor in the change in the US position is the easing of fears that the Kremlin will respond with the use of tactical nuclear weapons, although experts and officials in Washington warn that such a danger remains.
As the New York Times notes, the US and its NATO allies are "removing the handcuffs" they had put on themselves and have begun supplying Ukraine with Javelins and Stingers, Patriot air defense systems, armored fighting vehicles and even Western tanks. U.S. officials are discussing with their Ukrainian counterparts the use of U.S.- supplied weapons, from HIMARS missile systems to Bradley fighting vehicles, to potentially target Russian President Vladimir Putin's hard-won control of the land bridge, which functions as a critical supply route connecting Crimea with Russia in front of Moscow-occupied Melitopol and Mariupol.
At the same time, the United States is finalizing a new major package of military aid to Ukraine, the value of which could reach .6 billion, the Associated Press reports. For the first time, the package calls for 100 Stryker combat vehicles and at least 50 Bradley armored vehicles, which will give Ukrainian forces safe and faster movement on the front lines.
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