Thursday, 2 Feb 2023

Guy Verhofstadt turns on Germany over not sending tanks to Ukraine

James Cleverly gives joint press conference with Secretary Blinken

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Guy Verhofstadt has hit out at Germany for not sending tanks to war-torn Ukraine. The Belgian MEP took to Twitter to blast German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s approach, insisting it “makes no sense”.

Mr Verhofstadt shared a report claiming that Berlin will not allow the export of German tanks to war-torn Ukraine unless the US sends its own armoured vehicles.

The MEP said: “The approach of the German Chancellor makes no sense.

“France and Britain send tanks, but now Germany wants to set conditions on US?!

“It’s our backyard. Ukraine defends EU from a genocidal dictator, with its own blood. Enough!”

Referring to German-built Leopard 2 battle tanks, Mr Verhofstadt added: “#FreeTheLeopards.”

The Belgian MEP’s tweet comes after Rishi Sunak announced at the weekend that the UK is to become the first nation to supply Ukraine with modern Western tanks as the Kyiv puts up fierce resistance to Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion.

Britain will send 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks, to be followed by around 30 AS90s.

The move is a key demand of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Kyiv hopes it will unlock similar offers of support from other Nato allies.

Poland has offered to provide a company of Leopard 2 battle tanks but, because they were originally imported from Germany, it would have to be signed off by Berlin before they can be re-exported.

Mr Verhofstadt’s intervention comes ahead of a meeting of allies in Ramstein in Germany on Friday hosted by US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and the Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin will be among those attending.

The US signalled it is ready to step up its military assistance for Ukraine following talks in Washington yesterday between Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Mr Blinken welcomed the UK’s decision to supply Kyiv with battle tanks and indicated that the US would be making further announcements in the coming days.

He said: “We have continuously provided what Ukraine needs and we are doing it in a way that makes sure we are responsive to what is actually happening on the battlefield as well as projecting where it might go.

“We are determined to make sure that Ukraine has what it needs to succeed on the battlefield.”

Mr Zelensky has called for some 300 modern Western battle tanks to enable his forces to take the offensive against the Russians.

In practice this is likely to mean US Abrams tanks and German Leopard 2s – or a combination of the two – which are potentially available in far greater numbers than the Challenger 2.

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