US President Joe Biden says his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin was wrong to think Western resolve would "crumble" as the Ukraine conflict dragged on, as he announced that America will supply Ukraine with 31 advanced M1 Abrams tanks.
Mr Biden announced the decision in remarks at the White House, saying the tanks are needed to help the Ukrainians "improve their ability to manoeuvre in open terrain."
Mr Biden also thanked Germany for its decision to supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks, saying: "Germany has really stepped up."
"The expectation on the part of Russia is we’re going to break up,” Mr Biden said of the US and European allies. “But we are fully, totally and thoroughly united.”
What we learnt today
It has been a big day for Ukraine, with a number of Western allies including the US, Germany, Norway and Spain pledging to send tanks to Kyiv.
The United States announced on Wednesday it will supply Ukraine with 31 advanced M1 Abrams tanks worth $400 million in a matter of months.
Germany will provide a company of 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks from its Bundeswehr stocks, German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said.
Rishi Sunak says "Russia is on the back foot."
Spain has announced that it is ready to send some of its German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine.
Ukraine will now push for Western fourth generation fighter jets such as the US F-16 after securing supplies of main battle tanks, an adviser to Ukraine's defence minister said.
Volodymyr Zelensky sends his thanks to Joe Biden.
Mr Zelensky describes the move as "an important step on the path to victory."
Ukraine presidential office chief hails US tanks move as "historic day"
The head of the Ukrainian presidential administration responded to an announcement by President Joe Biden that the US was sending 31 advanced M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine by calling it a "historic day" that would help determine the outcome of the war.
"The main thing is that this is only the beginning. We need hundreds of tanks," Andriy Yermak said in a post on Telegram labeled "The US will give us 31 Abrams." He added, "It's a historic day. One of those days that will determine our future victory."
Sunak: There is a window to speed up global efforts to support Ukraine
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said there was a window of opportunity for international partners to speed up efforts to support Ukraine in its conflict against Russia.
"The Prime Minister said it was now clear Russia was on the back foot, and there was a window for international partners to accelerate efforts to secure lasting peace for Ukraine," Mr Sunak's office said in a statement after he spoke to the leaders of the United States, Germany, France and Italy.
"All the leaders welcomed the strong coordination of military supplies and reflected on the collective international action across the spectrum in support of Ukraine."
Norway says it will send tanks to Ukraine
Norway will send German-made tanks to Ukraine as part of a group of Western nations supplying the arms, Norwegian Defence Minister Bjoern Arild Gram told public broadcaster NRK on Wednesday.
He declined to say how many tanks Norway would deliver.
'Germany didn't force me to change my mind'
A reporter asks President Biden if "Germany forced you to change your mind on sending tanks."
Mr Biden says no.
"Germany didn't force me to change my mind. We wanted to make sure we were all together. That's what we were going to do all along, and that's what we're doing now."
"With spring approaching, Ukrainian forces are working to defend the territory they hold and preparing for additional counter offenses to liberate their land," he said.
And with that, he's done.
'This is about freedom' says Biden
"Putin expected Europe and the US to weaken our resolve. He expected our support for Ukraine to crumble with time. He was wrong," says Mr Biden.
"These tanks are further evidence of our enduring, unflagging commitment to Ukraine. This is about freedom."
Germany has 'really stepped up'
Mr Biden says “Germany has really stepped up” as he praises Chancellor Scholz’s decision to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
Mr Biden adds that this is not an offensive move against Russia. It is designed to protect Ukraine's sovereignty.
Abrams tanks announced
The US will provide 31 Abrams tanks to help Ukraine repel Russia's invasion, Joe Biden has announced.
The M1 Abrams will be procured with Ukraine assistance funding rather than directly drawn from existing US stocks, meaning they will not arrive on the battlefield for months.
Biden is up
US President Joe Biden is speaking at the White House.
He says that NATO is "totally united" and has been on the phone with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni this morning.
Ukraine sets sights on fighter jets after securing tank supplies
Ukraine will now push for Western fourth generation fighter jets such as the US F-16 after securing supplies of main battle tanks, an adviser to Ukraine's defence minister said on Wednesday.
Ukraine won a huge boost for its troops as Germany announced plans to provide heavy tanks for Kyiv on Wednesday, ending weeks of diplomatic deadlock on the issue. The United States is poised to make a similar announcement.
"The next big hurdle will now be the fighter jets," Yuriy Sak, who advises Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, told Reuters by phone.
Ukraine's Air Force has a fleet of ageing Soviet-era fighter jets that came off the assembly line before Kyiv even declared independence more than 31 years ago. The warplanes are used for intercept missions and to attack Russian positions.
"If we get them (Western fighter jets), the advantages on the battlefield will be just immense... It's not just F-16s: fourth generation aircraft, this is what we want."
Biden calls leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Italy on Ukraine aid
US President Joe Biden has spoken with key European allies about supporting Ukraine's fight against Russian invasion, the White House said.
Biden discussed "our close coordination on support for Ukraine" with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
Mr Biden is due to speak at 5pm UK time. We'll be carrying his remarks live at the top of this blog.
Russian parliament head backs ban on public criticism of Wagner fighters
Russia's top lawmaker has backed a proposal by the founder of the Wagner mercenary group fighting in Ukraine to make it a criminal offence to publicly criticise Wagner fighters or publish negative reports about them.
Yevgeny Prigozhin made the request in a letter to Vyacheslav Volodin, the hawkish chairman of the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, saying he wanted jail terms of up to five years for anyone who discredited his men.
Prigozhin had asked parliament to criminalise any actions that discredit fighters - who include convicts recruited on the promise of winning pardons after six months, even if they were originally jailed for life. The United States estimates that Wagner has recruited around 40,000 convicts.
He had also asked for a ban on public disclosure of convict fighters' criminal pasts, following media reports focusing on how service with Wagner has secured freedom for murderers.
Zelensky phone call with NATO's Stoltenberg
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been on the phone to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, speaking about the "broadening of the tank coalition."
They also discussed "necessary steps towards further integration with NATO," he said.
Spain 'ready' to send German tanks to Kyiv
Spain has announced that it is ready to send some of its German-made Leopard tanks to bolster Ukraine's fight against Russia after Berlin granted approval for their European transfers.
"Spain is ready... to deal with our allies in any way necessary, whether that means sending Leopards, training in the use of Leopards or help in their maintenance and upkeep," Defence Minister Margarita Robles said.
Her remarks came shortly after Berlin said it would send some of its own Leopards to Kyiv and cleared other European nations to send their own stocks to Ukraine.
Robles did not specify numbers or give a delivery date but said Spain would assess what it could provide in terms of hardware and training, so Ukraine's troops could use the complex battle tanks.
"While it's true Spain has Leopards, the vast majority of those which could be delivered, need to undergo an upgrade," she said.
According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the Spanish military has 327 Leopard battle tanks, making it one of the armies with the largest number.
El Pais said 108 of them were Leopard 2A4s bought second-hand from Germany in 1995.
The other 239 were Leopard 2E combat tanks, a variant of Germany's Leopard adapted by the Spanish military and built in Spain, it said.
Odesa city put on UNESCO heritage in danger list
The United Nations' cultural agency has decided to add the historic centre of Ukraine's Black Sea port city of Odesa to its list of endangered World Heritage sites.
The decision was made at an extraordinary session of the World Heritage Committee in Paris.
UNESCO director general Audrey Azoulay praised the move, saying the "legendary port that left its mark in cinema, literature and arts" is "now placed under the reinforced protection of the international community."
"As the war is still going on, this inscription shows our collective determination to ensure that this city is preserved from further destruction," she added.
The city has been subjected to artillery attacks and air strikes by Russian forces on multiple occasions since the beginning of the war last year.
Ukraine Defence Minister promises 'good news' after call with US counterpart
Oleksiy Reznikov, Ukraine's defence minister, said he spoke with his US counterpart Lloyd Austin on Wednesday, promising "more good news to be announced soon."
Reznikov said they discussed "further strengthening of (Ukraine's army), including tank supplies and maintenance of the new armament."
"More good news to be announced soon," the Ukrainian official wrote on Twitter, without providing further details.
France studying whether to send Leclerc tanks to Ukraine
France continues to study the possibility of sending its heavy Leclerc tanks to Ukraine, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Wednesday.
The French tanks are comparable to the German-made Leopards, which Berlin agreed to send to Kyiv on Wednesday, but are available in far smaller numbers and would pose different maintenance and logistical challenges.
"Regarding the Leclerc tanks, we are continuing our analysis with the armed forces ministry," Borne told parliament when asked on Wednesday. "The issue of assistance for Ukraine is not limited to this or that weapon."
France has provided its state-of-the-art Caesar artillery system, Crotale air defence system and most recently pledged its highly mobile AMX-10 RC light tank among other weapons.
Russia tests hypersonic missile strike capabilities in Atlantic
Breaking: US to provide 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine
The US will provide 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine in a deal valued at $400mln, Bloomberg is reporting.
More to follow...
UNESCO grants Odesa's historic centre World Heritage in Danger status
The United Nations cultural agency UNESCO said on Wednesday that it had designated the historic centre of Odesa, a strategic port city on Ukraine's Black Sea coast, a World Heritage in Danger site.
It is hoped the status, awarded by a UNESCO panel meeting in Paris, will help protect Odesa’s cultural heritage which has been under threat since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and enable access to financial and technical international aid.
Odesa has been bombed several times by Russia since its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.
Comment: Tanks won’t be enough: Ukraine needs F-16 jets to win
There is a military axiom that only armies can take and hold ground.
It is also true that armies don’t take or hold ground for long without air support.
With the breaking news that allies are sending modern tanks to Ukraine, there is now even more urgency to send the aircraft that Kyiv has been asking for since the early phases of this war.
Read more from Greg Bagwell here
Analysis: Ukraine finally has its Western tanks – now it’s time for the hard part
Barring any final twists in this particular act, it looks as if Ukraine’s leaders will finally have their dream of Western tanks realised.
Tanks cannot take enemy positions and hold ground on their own, of course.
For that, battlefield commanders need other parts of the military orchestra to all be in tune.
Read more from Dom Nicholls here
Biden to give Ukraine remarks amid expectations of US tank deliveries
President Joe Biden will address Americans about US support for Ukraine, the White House announced, amid expectations that the United States will announce future delivery of Abrams tanks.
The White House gave no details of the remarks scheduled for 12:00 pm (1700 GMT), other than saying Biden "will deliver remarks on continued support for Ukraine."
Ukraine-Russia in pictures
Russia says delivery of German tanks to Ukraine part of 'pre-planned' war
Maria Zakharova, Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman, said on Wednesday that Germany's decision to supply tanks to Ukraine confirmed what she said was a "pre-planned war" against Moscow.
Kyiv has for months asked for Western tanks that it says it desperately needs to give its forces the firepower and mobility to break through Russian defensive lines and recapture occupied territory in the east and south.
Ukraine asks countries with Leopard 2 tanks to provide as many as possible
Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, appealed to all countries that operate the Leopard 2 battle tank to "provide as many of them as possible" to help Ukraine fend off Russia's invasion.
"So the tank coalition is formed. Everyone who doubted this could ever happen sees now: for Ukraine and partners impossible is nothing," he wrote on Twitter.
"I call on all new partners that have Leopard 2 tanks in service to join the coalition and provide as many of them as possible."
Zelensky: Sincerely grateful to the Chancellor
Breaking: No fighter jet deliveries to Ukraine, says Scholz
There will be no fighter jet deliveries to Ukraine, Olaf Scholz has said.
The German Chancellor said: "There will be no fighter jet deliveries to Ukraine.
"This was made clear very early, including from [the] US president."
Scholz praised Joe Biden, the US president, and said their recent talks had been friendly.
"This is a president who is really a good partner," he said.
Germany has only received Poland's request to re-export Leopards
Germany has only received Poland's request to re-export Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine, a government spokesman said.
Partner states will likely make announcements about their plans in the "coming hours and days," the spokesman added.
Ukraine: 'We need a lot of Leopards'
"The first step on tanks has been taken," said Kyiv, urging its allies to now build a "tank coalition".
"We need a lot of Leopards," the head of Ukraine's presidential administration Andriy Yermak said on social media.
Germany will provide a company of 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks from its Bundeswehr stocks, German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said.
It is also granting approval for other European countries to send tanks from their own stocks to Ukraine, with the aim of quickly assembling "two tank battalions with Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine," he said.
Nato chief: German tanks can help Ukraine 'win'
Scholz: 'We want to avoid an escalation of this war'
Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor, said:
We proved also in coordination with friends that we are doing nothing alone.
It's not far away from Berlin, that a war on a big country, is taking place.
And with all we do we need to make it clear we will do anything necessary to support Ukraine but at the same time, we want to avoid an escalation of this war so that it doesn't become a war between Russia and Nato.
There can't be any certainties in this.
Nobody can tell us now, exactly the right and the wrong decisions.
And that's why its been done with intention to move forward gradually and we will do so also in the future.
It's the only principle that proves valid in such a dangerous case and it's the only principle that can bring clarity and security.
That also holds true for the latest decision the federal government has made. We will also provide combat tanks to Ukraine Leopard Type 2. [A6]
Scholz: 'It’s our goal to deliver two tank battalions together with our allies'
Olaf Scholz said:
It’s our goal to deliver two tank battalions together with our allies. There’s a number of countries who would like to join in under deliveries.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the right principle to follow what we're talking about very efficient weapon. And it is correct to never go it alone, but to always provide these weapons in close agreement with the partners."
Poland says Leopard tanks will help Ukraine repel Russian attacks
Poland welcomes Germany's decision to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine as they are needed to repel a potential Russian offensive, the Polish president's foreign policy adviser, Marcin Przydacz, said on Wednesday.
"The decision of Chancellor Scholz is received with satisfaction in Poland because those tanks are very much needed in order to repel a possible Russian offensive which is possible in the coming weeks."
Scholz asks Germany to trust him on decision to deliver tanks to Ukraine
Olaf Scholz has asked German citizens to trust him and the Government on the country's decision to send tanks to Ukraine.
He said: "To the German public who are concerned about the weapons deliveries. Trust me, we will ensure that the risks for our country don't grow in the wrong direction and that is because we stick to the principle of taking these steps in cooperation with partners."
Ben Wallace: 'Delighted' that Germany sending tanks
Scholz: Germany will always be at the frontline when it comes to supporting Ukraine
Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor, has said that Germany will always be at the frontline when it comes to supporting Ukraine.
He said: "Germany will always be at the front when it comes to supporting Ukraine, we are the country that does that with great energy.
"It was right and it is right that we were not pushed, but that we insisted that the step was taken in close cooperation with partners."
Netherlands also prepared to supply battle tanks to Ukraine, PM says
The Netherlands is prepared to deliver battle tanks to Ukraine if needed, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Wednesday.
"If a contribution from the Netherlands helps, we are prepared to do so," Rutte told Dutch broadcaster RTL.
Rutte said the Netherlands could opt to buy tanks it currently leases from Germany, and supply those to Ukraine.
France welcomes Germany's decision to send tanks
The French presidency welcomed Berlin's decision to send tanks to Ukraine and allow other states to do the same.
"France welcomes the German decision, which extends and amplifies the support we have provided with the delivery of the AMX10 RC," the Elysee said in a statement, referring to a France-made lighter combat vehicle which Paris is also aiming to send to Ukraine.
Spain open to sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine, minister says
Spain is open to providing German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, Margarita Robles, the defence minister said on Wednesday after Germany agreed to send the tanks and allow other Nato allies to do the same.
She told EFE news agency Spain would act in coordination with the Western allies helping Ukraine fend off the Russian invasion.
Scholz to speak at 12pm
Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor, is expected to speak about the announcement on tanks at 12pm UK time.
Make sure to follow along with the Telegraph's livestream to find out more.
Poland: Thank you Olaf Scholz
Ukraine admits pullout from Soledar
Ukraine's military conceded to AFP that its troops had pulled out of Soledar in the eastern Donetsk region, which Russian forces said they captured earlier this month.
"After months of heavy fighting, including over the past weeks, the Armed Forces of Ukraine left (Soledar) and retreated along the outskirts to pre-prepared positions," said military spokesman Sergiy Cherevaty.
Cherevaty did not disclose to AFP when Ukrainian troops had withdrawn from Soledar but he said the manoeuvre had been carefully planned.
Leopard tanks to Ukraine – all your questions answered
Who is sending tanks?
Why has it taken so long?
And how can Leopard tanks change the war?
As Germany agrees to donate some of its game-changing tanks to Kyiv, Joe Barnes looks at everything you need to know.
Sunak says Germany has made 'right decision' to send tanks to Ukraine
Rishi Sunak, the British Prime Minister, said that Germany and other Nato allies' decision to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine was the "right decision".
"The right decision by Nato Allies and friends to send main battle tanks to Ukraine. Alongside Challenger 2s, they will strengthen Ukraine’s defensive firepower," Sunak said on Twitter.
"Together, we are accelerating our efforts to ensure Ukraine wins this war and secures a lasting peace."
Ukraine: Tanks will be a 'punching fist' for democracy
"A few hundred tanks for our tank crews .... This is what is going to become a real punching fist of democracy," Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's administration, wrote on Telegram.
Germany to assemble two tank battalions as it finally approves Leopards
Germany will assemble two tank battalions with a Western coalition after it finally confirmed it will send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and grant licenses to its allies.
Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor, said in a statement: "The goal is to quickly assemble two tank battalions with Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine. In a first step, Germany will provide a company with 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks from stocks of the Bundeswehr."
He said the decision followed Germany's line of supporting Ukraine to the best of its ability.
Germany will grant the corresponding permits for transfer to the partner countries that want to quickly deliver Leopard 2 tanks from their stocks to Ukraine.
The decision paves the way for other countries such as Poland, Spain and Norway to supply their stocks of Leopard tanks to Ukraine.
"Other European partners will hand over Leopard-2 tanks," he added. "The training of the Ukrainian crews should begin quickly in Germany. In addition to training, the package will also include logistics, ammunition and maintenance of the systems."
'Happy birthday Zelensky'
Spain detains suspect over letter bombs sent to PM and Ukrainian embassy
Spanish police have arrested a man suspected of being behind a recent letter bombing campaign that targeted the prime minister and the Ukrainian embassy, a police source said Wednesday.
The 74-year-old man was arrested in Miranda de Ebro in northern Spain, the source said without giving further details.
Kremlin says Western tanks would 'burn' in Ukraine
The Kremlin said Wednesday that if Western countries supply Ukraine with heavy tanks they will be destroyed on the battlefield, as Kyiv awaits a decision from Berlin on deliveries of Leopard 2 tanks.
"Technologically, this is a failed plan. This is an overestimation of the potential that this will add to the Ukrainian army. These tanks burn like all the rest. They are just very expensive," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Britain needs new tanks to defeat Putin
In 2007 President Putin gave a thumper of a speech to the Munich Security Conference that effectively said: “Watch out – Russia is coming back.” His threat to rekindle Moscow’s influence across Slavic Europe was ignored, and a year later he proved true to his word and invaded Georgia.
Here we are 16 years later – still without a coherent Russia strategy, hesitating as Russia prepares for a massive spring offensive in Ukraine.
All this is encapsulated in the infuriating, bewildering impasse over tanks in Europe. Not over how many might head Ukraine’s way, but – in some countries – whether they should be sent at all.
Read the full piece from Tobias Ellwood and Hamish de Bretton-Gordon here
Norway may send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine
The Norwegian government is considering whether to send some of its German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, Oslo-based newspapers Aftenposten and Dagens Naeringsliv reported late on Tuesday.
No decision to send the heavy battle tanks has yet been made, according to each of the papers, quoting anonymous sources familiar with the deliberation.
NATO member Norway, which itself borders Russia, may contribute either four or eight of the country's 36 Leopard 2 tanks, according to Dagens Naeringsliv.
The United States and Germany are poised to provide a significant boost to Kyiv's war effort with the delivery of heavy battle tanks, sources have said, a move Moscow condemned as a "blatant provocation".
Pictured: Ukrainian flags are placed on the graves of soldiers at a Kharkiv cemetery
Russian-installed Donetsk chief says Wagner units making progress in Bakhmut
The Russian-installed governor of Ukraine's Donetsk region said on Wednesday that units of the Wagner private military company were making progress in the town of Bakhmut, with fighting ongoing in previously Ukrainian-held neighbourhoods.
Reuters could not independently confirm the battlefield claim.
New Zealander killed in Ukraine helped hundreds, parents say
The parents of a New Zealand scientist who was killed in Ukraine said Wednesday he helped save hundreds of people while volunteering in the dangerous Donbas region.
Andrew Bagshaw, 47, a dual New Zealand and British citizen, was killed along with British colleague Chris Parry, 28, while attempting to rescue an elderly woman from the town of Soledar when their car was hit by an artillery shell, according to Bagshaw's parents, Dame Sue and Phil Bagshaw.
The Bagshaws said the deaths, which occurred some time this month, had only just been confirmed to them.
They said their son worked independently and wasn't affiliated with an aid agency, They said he helped evacuate people from dangerous areas and bring food, water and medicine to others in need. They said he even fed abandoned pets.
Latest MoD update
Japan PM says considering Ukraine trip
Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, whose country is hosting this year's Group of Seven meeting, said Wednesday he is considering visiting Ukraine, after an invitation from President Volodymyr Zelensky.
"Nothing has been decided at this time regarding my visit to Ukraine," he told parliament.
"I will consider this in light of various circumstances and conditions," he added, without specifying further.
Tokyo has worked in lockstep with its G7 allies to sanction Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and boost support to Kyiv, even taking the rare step of offering refuge to those fleeing the conflict.
Good morning and welcome to today's Ukraine liveblog.
The West is poised to send nearly 200 battle tanks to Ukraine in a potential hammer blow that could help Kyiv win its war against Vladimir Putin.
Russia's ambassador to the United States has blasted Washington's possible battle tank deliveries to Ukraine as "another blatant provocation" against Russia.
Last night Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russia was ramping up its push towards Bakhmut, an industrial town in eastern Ukraine that has been the focus of intense fighting.