Scholz stays silent on battle tanks for Ukraine

Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday promised German support for Ukraine for "as long as necessary" but without mentioning tanks, despite international pressure on him to authorise their delivery to Kyiv

European allies have implored the German chancellor to agree to the export of German-made Leopard heavy tanks to help Ukraine repel Russia's invasion.

With the pressure rising, some had expected an announcement during Scholz's speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday, a day after several EU leaders pushed for a decision at the same event.

But Scholz made no reference to tanks, simply insisting that Germany was "continuously supplying Ukraine with large quantities of arms, in close consultation with our partners".

After the speech, Scholz was asked directly about Germany's continued hesitancy on the issue.

But while listing weapons from Iris-T air defence systems to multiple rocket launchers to Marder armoured vehicles, he pointedly failed to mention the sought-after Leopards.

Instead, he repeated that "we are not just supporting Ukraine with financial means with humanitarian aid but also with a lot of weapons".

"We are never doing something just by ourselves but together with others, especially the United States," he added.

Leaders and ministers from Finland, Lithuania, Poland and Britain have added their voices to a growing clamour for Berlin to greenlight the export of Leopards to Ukraine.

Western countries supporting Ukraine are set to meet at the US-run Ramstein military base in Germany on Friday to coordinate their latest pledges to Ukraine.

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said Wednesday he had "very good and positive signals" that new weapons would be announced for Ukraine at the meeting.

Germany has been repeatedly criticised for its reluctance to send weapons to Ukraine since the start of the conflict.

The issue will be one of the most pressing in the in-tray of newly appointed German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius, who took the post on Tuesday.

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