Germany officially confirms export of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, approves re-export from third countries
After weeks of growing pressure from allies, Berlin has finally announced that it will send 14 of its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. It has also approved the re-export of Leopard 2 tanks from third countries.
Other countries have also pledged to send Ukraine Leopard 2 tanks, including Poland, Norway and Portugal. It has also been reported that Spain intends to send Ukraine the German-made tanks too. Last week, the UK announced that it would send 14 of its Challenger 2 tanks to Kyiv.
The announcement comes as the United States is reportedly considering arming Ukraine with its around 30 of its powerful Abrams tanks, and reports of Switzerland intending to lift its ban on supplying Kyiv with arms.
The Leopard 2 first came into service in 1979, has a top speed of 68km/h (42mph), and a maximum range of around 500km (311 miles). They are specifically designed to compete with the Russian T-90 tanks, which Moscow has been using during its full-scale invasion.
Wed, 01/25/2023 - 11:51
Poland officially asks Germany for permission to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine
Poland has officially asked Germany for permission to send some of its German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, the Polish Defence Minister announced in a tweet on Tuesday morning (24 January).
In the tweet, Mariusz Blaszczak wrote: "The Germans have already received our request for consent to the transfer of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. I also appeal to the German side to join the coalition of countries supporting Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks. This is our common cause because it is about the security of the whole of Europe!''
Germany has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks to either supply Ukraine with its Leopard 2 tanks, or at least approve other countries' re-export of them.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock had said on Sunday (22 January) in an interview with French television that she would not "stand in the way" of Poland if it wanted to sent its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. On his part, German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said on Tuesday morning that Berlin had yet to decide on the delivery of combat tanks to Ukraine, saying that "There is no news that I can deliver at this point. I have said that shortly a decision will be made and I can only assume that will be the case."
Tue, 01/24/2023 - 12:38
Turkey rules out support for Sweden NATO bid after Stockholm protests
The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has said that Sweden should not expect support from Ankara over its bid to join NATO following protests in Stockholm at the weekend.
Surrounded by police for his protection, on Saturday (21 January) Danish-Swedish, far-right, anti-Islam activist Rasmus Paludan burned the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm while making disparaging remarks about immigrants and Islam. This incensed President Erdogan who criticised the Swedish authorities for letting the stunt happen.
“It is clear that those who allowed such vileness to take place in front of our embassy can no longer expect any charity from us regarding their NATO membership application,” Erdogan said on Monday (23 January).
Another bone of contention between Sweden and Turkey regarding the former's accession to NATO concerns the Kurdish question. Later on Saturday following Paludan's stunt, there was a pro-Kurdish demonstration in Stockholm where flags of various Kurdish groups were waved, including that of the Kurdish Workers' Party, or the PKK. The PKK has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey, and although it is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, its symbols are not banned in Sweden.
Mon, 01/23/2023 - 18:53
Ramstein summit: no decision on German tanks as countries make military aid pledges
No decision has been reached on whether Berlin will approve the supply of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine at Ramstein Air Force base summit of global defence leaders in Germany on Friday (20 January).
The BBC reports that the Polish Defence Minister, Mariusz Blaszczak, remains optimistic that efforts to supply the tanks would be successful, saying, "Defence ministers of 15 countries met on the sidelines of today's conference and we talked about this topic...I am convinced that coalition building will end in success."
Both leading up to and during the summit on Friday, numerous countries had made separate pledges of military equipment to Ukraine. The Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lativa, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, the UK, Sweden, Finland, Germany and the United States are among those to have pledged further military aid to Ukraine in the past week.
Fri, 01/20/2023 - 17:14
European Council President Michel heads to Kyiv amid calls to send Ukraine tanks
The President of the European Council Charles Michel is in Kyiv, announcing his arrival on Twitter on Thursday morning (19 January).
In a video, he said:
"I am on my way to Kyiv because I will have the occasion to meet again with the President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Prime Minister, and members of parliament. And we know that the Ukrainians are resisting, and they are fighting. They are fighting for their land, they are fighting for the future, and for the future of their children. We all know they are also fighting for our common European values and principles. And also for the promise of European Union peace and prosperity. They need and deserve our support, and that is why we will discuss with President Zelensky and his team what are the measures we can develop in order to make sure they are stronger and more powerful."
In a speech to the European Parliament yesterday (18 January), President Michel explicitly expressed his support for supplying Ukraine with tanks, saying: "The time is now. They urgently need more equipment and I'm personally in favour of supplying tanks to Ukraine."
Thu, 01/19/2023 - 11:29
Ex-Wagner commander flees Russia seeking asylum in Norway
Tue, 01/17/2023 - 10:27
A former commander of the Russian paramilitary Wagner Group, Andrey Medvedev, has sought asylum in Norway after allegedly witnessing extrajudicial killings during the war in Ukraine.
German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht resigns
Mon, 01/16/2023 - 11:51
The German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht has resigned after months of criticism over her handling of the German response to Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
In a resignation statement, Ms Lambrecht said: "Months of media focus on me doesn't allow for fact-based reporting and discussion about soldiers, the army and security policy in the interest of German citizens [...] The valuable work of the soldiers and many motivated people in the defence area needs to be in the foreground."
Third Joint Declaration on NATO-EU cooperation
On 10 January 2023, the EU and NATO signed a Joint Declaration in Brussels. They condemned in the strongest possible terms Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and reiterated their unwavering support to the country.
The declaration also sets out a shared vision of how the EU and NATO will act together against common security threats. The EU and NATO will expand and deepen their cooperation on areas such as:
the growing geostrategic competition
resilience and the protection of critical infrastructure
emerging and disruptive technologies
the security implications of climate change
foreign information manipulation and interference.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, met on Tuesday (10 January 2023) at NATO Headquarters to sign the third Joint Declaration on NATO-European Union cooperation.
Speaking at a joint press conference, Mr Stoltenberg said: “we are determined to take the partnership between NATO and the European Union to the next level.” The Joint Declaration aims to further strengthen and expand the strategic partnership between NATO and the EU, building on unprecedented progress in cooperation between the two organisations since previous declarations were signed in 2016 and 2018.
Tue, 01/10/2023 - 13:36
Opinion: EU mediation between Armenia and Azerbaijan is needed now more than ever
The stalemate in the process of normalising relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan has created new risks. Writing for commonspace.eu in this op-ed, Vasif Huseynov says that "there is widespread concern in the region that the sides might end up in a violent military escalation this year if they fail to sign a peace treaty and agree on a roadmap for the resolution of the remaining disputes concerning the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and the re-opening of regional transportation links. Under these circumstances, there is a great need for the constructive intervention and active mediation of the EU, without which Baku and Yerevan are unlikely to be able to overcome the difficulties created by the Russian side", he argues.
Fri, 01/06/2023 - 07:17