Ukraine LIVE: Huge breakthrough for Zelensky as Germany gives green light to Leopard tanks

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In a clear sign that Berlin is softening its stance on tanks, Germany’s Foreign Secretary told French TV station LCI that her government would “not stand in the way” of Poland.

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Volodymyr Zelensky received a huge boost yesterday after Germany said it would “not stand in the way” of Poland sending tanks to Ukraine.

Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Sunday his country was ready to dispatch 14 German-made Leopard tanks to Kyiv, but was “waiting for a clear statement” from Berlin on whether it could transfer the heavy armour.

In a clear sign that Berlin is softening its stance on tanks, Germany’s Foreign Secretary told French TV station LCI that her government would “not stand in the way” of Poland.

Asked what would happen if Warsaw sent its Leopard 2 tanks without German approval, Annalena Baerbock replied: “For the moment the question has not been asked, but if we were asked we would not stand in the way.”

Germany had been much criticised over the weekend for refusing to commit to providing Kyiv with its Leopard tanks at a security meeting held at a US airbase in Ramstein Germany on Friday.

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A Ukrainian tank on manoeuvres (Image: Ukraine General Staff)

John Varga

Russian offensive still floundering as Putin’s army continues to suffer high casualties – MoD

The UK’s Ministry of Defence said that Russia’s offensive in eastern Ukraine is still floundering and that Putin’s army continues to suffer high casualties.

In its Monday briefing the MoD also said that the appointment of General Valery Gerasimov as the overall commander of the Russian army in Ukraine has been met with widespread scepticism.

The MoD’s analysts wrote: “The Russian force continues to endure operational deadlock and heavy casualties.

“Gerasimov’s prioritisation of largely minor regulations is likely to confirm the fears of his many sceptics in Russia.”

u2014 Ministry of Defence ud83cuddecud83cudde7 (@DefenceHQ) January 23, 2023

John Varga

France considering sending Leclerc tanks to Ukraine

France has not ruled out delivering Leclerc heavy battle tanks to Ukraine to support it in its war against Russia, Emmanuel Macron said yesterday.

“As for the Leclercs, I have asked the Minister of the Army to work on that. Nothing is excluded,” the French President said at a joint press conference with Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The two European leaders were in Paris on Sunday to mark the 60th anniversary of the Elysee Treaty.

His comments come as Germany’s Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, said Berlin would not stop Poland from sending a contignet of 14 Leopard tanks to Kyiv from its military arsenal.

rance has not ruled out delivering Leclerc heavy battle tanks to Ukraine (Image: Getty)

John Varga

US ‘will step in’ with Ukraine tanks after Germany condemned over snub

The US will reluctantly send its battle tanks to Ukraine if Germany continues to stall, a senior US general predicted last night.

It follows the summit in Ramstein, Germany, on Friday in which Germany and the US both failed to follow the UK’s lead in pledging tanks for the war with Russia.

Germany’s hesitancy is hugely damaging because export licence rules mean that at least 15 other nations willing to deploy German-made Leopard 2 tanks – including Poland and Finland – cannot do so without Berlin’s say-so.

Speaking last night retired Lt Gen Stephen Twitty, deputy commander of United States European Command until last year, said: “There are 2,000 German-made Leopard tanks across Europe. The hope in Washington was that providing these would result in a more simplified logistics chain. It hasn’t happened.

“But I can tell you that the Pentagon is continuing to look into the feasibility of deploying Abrams seriously. They want to do the right thing.”

Read more here

Leopard tanks have been requested by Kyiv (Image: Getty)

John Varga

EU urges member states to use confiscated Russian assets to help rebuild Ukraine

Charles Michel, the European Council president, has urged the bloc’s leaders to speed up talks about using confiscated Russian assets to help rebuild Ukraine.

The EU has confiscated $300bn-worth of assets belonging to Russia’s Central Bank.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Michels said he wanted to generate profits from the frozen funds that could then help finance reconstruction in war-torn Ukraine.

He said: “It is a question of justice and fairness.

“It must be done in line with legal principles – this is very clear.”

Mr Michels said he wanted to generate profits from the frozen funds (Image: Getty)

John Varga

Zelensky knows Boris Johnson is a man who can get things done, says SAM LISTER

Volodymyr Zelensky is under no obligation to issue an invitation to a former premier but has made it clear he considers Mr Johnson a friend and true ally.

Crucially, the Ukrainian leader knows the former prime minister is a man who can get things done.

It is no coincidence that as he battles to secure the tanks he needs from allies, the president has turned to the ex-PM who rallied European nations at the start of the invasion.

Mr Johnson was clearly surprised that Mr Zelensky had gathered together some of the senior figures from his previous visits to meet him now that he travels as a humble backbench MP rather than the nation’s leader.

But the decision shows that his contribution remains greatly valued in Ukraine.

That was also reflected on the streets of Ukraine where ordinary people in a war-torn nation greeted him with delight.

Read more here

Boris Jonson and President Zelensky hold face-to-face talks (Image: AFP)

John Varga

Good morning

Good morning from London. I’m John Varga and I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments on Ukraine.

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