Russia angry as US, Germany promise to deliver tanks to Ukraine

Vano Shlamov / AFP

The United States and Germany have announced deliveries of top-of-the-line tanks to Ukraine, signalling a new surge of Western support for an expected counter-offensive against Russia. French military and political officials are still debating the supply of additional armoured vehicles to Kyiv.

In a televised address on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden promised 31 Abrams tanks, one of the most powerful and sophisticated weapons used by the US army.

Shortly before the US announcement, Chancellor Olaf Scholz gave the green light to allow Germany send 14 Leopard 2 tanks.

Western countries have already sent Ukraine mobile artillery units and Patriot anti-missile defense systems.

The promises of tank deliveries are seen as preparation for a Ukrainian counteroffensive to push back increasingly entrenched Russians in the east and south.

Biden emphasised that ramping up Western armaments for Ukraine's military should not be seen as an attack on Russia.

"That's what this is about, helping Ukraine defend and protect Ukrainian land. It is not an offensive threat to Russia. There is no offensive threat to Russia," Biden said.

Ukrainians, who have lobbied Western capitals for months to end restrictions on weapons which would enable their troops to take on the more heavily armed Russians, were jubilant.

President Volodymyr Zelensky called the pledge of US Abrams "an important step on the path to victory."

'A dangerous new line'

Russian forces have meanwhile tightened the screws on Bakhmut, an eastern town that Ukrainian forces have held for months in the face of artillery bombardments.

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