Ukraine: Germany ‘not active in supplying arms’ says Halaichuk
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Germany’s decision to send advanced armoured tanks to Ukraine has sparked the fury of EU and NATO ally Viktor Orban. From Washington to Berlin to Kyiv, a Western decision to send battle tanks to Ukraine was hailed enthusiastically. Moscow first shrugged it off — and later launched another barrage of attacks.
But in an interview with Hungarian state radio, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Germany’s decision to send 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks to Ukraine was emblematic of the increasing role Western countries are playing in the war, now in its 12th month.
The Hungarian leader said on Friday that Hungary getting drawn into the war in Ukraine “is out of the question as long as I am prime minister” but he thinks it is too late for other countries in Europe.
He said: “The others are not only in danger, they have already been swept away.
“If you send weapons, if you finance the entire annual budget of one of the belligerents, if you promise more and more weapons, more and more modern weapons, then you can say whatever you want. No matter what you say, you are in the war.”
Mr Orban, who has refused to send weapons to neighbouring Ukraine and has held up some European Union efforts to provide aid packages to Kyiv, has consistently argued against EU sanctions on Moscow and portrayed countries that assist Ukraine as being “on the side of war.”
His right-wing populist government has pursued increasingly close economic and diplomatic ties with Russia over the last decade and concluded major agreements on purchasing Russian gas, oil and nuclear fuel.
He also threatened to veto any EU sanctions that would affect its access to Russian energy.
The Kremlin has previously warned that Western tank deliveries would be a dangerous escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, and it has strongly denounced the watershed move by Germany and the United States to send heavy weaponry to its foe.
But it insists the new armour won’t stop Russia from achieving its goals in Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “The potential it gives to the Ukrainian armed forces is clearly exaggerated.
“Those tanks will burn just like any others.”
Moscow played down the move right after the announcement in an apparent attempt to save face as the West raised the stakes in Ukraine. Some Russian experts also emphasised that the supply of the deadly armour will be relatively limited and could take months to reach the front.
On Thursday, Russia launched a new wave of missiles and self-exploding drones across Ukraine — the latest in a series of strikes, many of which have targeted power plants and other key infrastructure.
Russian military bloggers and commentators say that such attacks involve meticulous preparation — so the latest barrage was likely planned in advance and was not necessarily linked to the tank announcement.
Yohann Michel, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank, observed that while Western arms supplies irk Russia, it can do nothing to stop them.
He said: “It’s a problem that they can’t necessarily address,” noting that earlier decisions by the US and its allies to supply air-defence weapons to Ukraine could have been even more worrying for Moscow.
President Vladimir Putin, his diplomats and military leaders have repeatedly warned the West that supplying long-range weapons capable of striking deep inside Russia would mark a red line and trigger massive retaliation.
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While other weapons like tanks and certain air defense systems have drawn warnings from Russian officials, the wording has been deliberately vague, perhaps to allow the Kremlin to avoid getting cornered by making specific threats.
Poland, the Czech Republic and other NATO countries have already provided Ukraine with hundreds of smaller Soviet-made tanks from the Cold War era when they were part of the Soviet bloc. Ukrainian armed forces, who have used similar aging weaponry, needed no extra training to use them. They played an important role on the battlefield, helping Ukraine reclaim broad swaths of territory in 11 months of fighting.
As Ukraine’s armoured units suffered attrition and stockpiles of the old T-72 tanks ran dry in the arsenals of its allies in Central and Eastern Europe, Kyiv has increasingly pushed for the delivery of US M1 Abrams tanks.
After weeks of hesitation, Germany said Wednesday it will provide Ukraine with 14 Leopard 2 tanks and allow other allies willing to follow suit to deliver 88 Leopards to form two tank battalions. The U.S. announced it will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks.
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his officials, who long have said the country needs hundreds of tanks to counter a foe with a far superior number as well as other weapons, greeted the Western decision as a major breakthrough, voicing hope that more supplies would follow.
Ukrainian military expert Oleh Zhdanov told The Associated Press: “The deliveries of Leopard 2 will take our ground forces to a qualitatively new level.”
Even though Leopard 2s are heavier than Soviet-designed tanks, they have a strong edge in firepower and survivability.
Mr Zhdanov said: “One Leopard 2 could be equivalent to three or five Russian tanks.”
But he noted that the promised number of Western tanks represents only the minimum that Ukraine needs to repel a likely offensive by Moscow, adding that Russia has thousands of armoured vehicles.
He added: “Kyiv is preparing for a defensive operation, and its outcome will determine the future course of the conflict.”
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