Ukrainian officials last night said they expect Western allies to provide their armed forces with long-range missiles after the UK, US, Germany and several other nations all agreed to send battalions of tanks long sought by Kyiv.
Presidential advisor Mikhailo Podolyak told the Daily Telegraph: ‘Right now we are seeing a sharp change in sentiment among the political elites of European countries… we will reach, I am sure, no doubt, an agreement on long-range missiles.’
In a devastating blow to the Kremlin, nine countries joined Britain yesterday in agreeing to send tanks to destroy Russia’s forces in eastern Ukraine. The coalition came together just 48 hours after Boris Johnson’s rallying cry in the Daily Mail, imploring the UK’s allies to end their dithering.
Germany will initially send 14 Leopard 2s to Ukraine, and aims to provide 80 tanks overall. On what Zelensky hailed as a ‘historic day’, the United States confirmed it will supply 31 Abrams M1 tanks. The UK has already said it will send 14 Challenger 2 tanks.
Podolyak’s bold claim came hours after his boss Volodymyr Zelensky openly urged NATO allies to send long-range missiles and jets to his war-torn country to help repel Russian troops.
In a nighttime address, Zelensky said: ‘I’ve spoken with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg today… We must also open deliveries of long-range missiles to Ukraine, it is important – we must expand our cooperation in artillery. This is a dream. And this is a task.’
Zelensky earlier thanked Western powers for agreeing to provide his nation with tanks. Poland, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal have now also offered to send their stocks of Leopard 2s after receiving the green light from their German manufacturer.
Russia’s ambassador to Germany, Sergey Nechayev, called Berlin’s decision ‘extremely dangerous,’ saying it ‘shifts the conflict to a new level of confrontationand contradicts the statements of German politicians about their reluctance to get involved in it.’
France has not yet committed to sending a squadron of its Leclerc tanks, but Emmanuel Macron is now under pressure to match his allies’ offer of heavy armour.
The allied fleet will face off against the Kremlin’s army of tank regiments – the majority of them ageing stocks of T-62s and T-72s, but also its elite T-90 units.
Zelensky, who turned 45 on Wednesday, thanked German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and US leader Joe Biden for their decision to send heavy tanks to Ukraine, hours before going on to call for long range missiles and jets.
‘It’s an important step on the path to victory,’ the Ukrainian president tweeted, thanking Biden for his ‘powerful’ decision.