Sending tanks became possible after Ukraine and Russia both rejected comprise peace deal, media report says

3 February, 07:52 AM
Leopard 2 tank (Photo:REUTERS/Benjamin Westhoff)

Leopard 2 tank (Photo:REUTERS/Benjamin Westhoff)

The decision to transfer Western tanks to Ukraine coalesced after Kyiv and Moscow refused a brokered compromise peace deal, which would have sacrificed some Ukrainian territory in exchange for an end to the war, Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung reported on Feb. 2, citing two unnamed German officials.

According to the NZZ, in mid-January, U.S. President Joe Biden instructed CIA chief William Burns to assess Ukraine’s and Russia’s readiness for negotiations. The article states that the offer to both sides included territorial concessions from Ukraine (about 20% of Ukrainian territory) in exchange for “peace.” Both Ukraine and Russia refused the offer, as Ukraine doesn’t want to further territorial losses, and Russia hopes to “win the war in the long term.”

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Two German politicians NZZ spoke to say CIA chief Burns and U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan want Russia's war against Ukraine to end as quickly as possible so they can “focus on China.” Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin don’t want Russia to destroy the world order and insist on increased military assistance to Kyiv.

According to NZZ sources, after Burns' trip to Kyiv and Moscow, Biden agreed to transfer Abrams tanks to Ukraine – something German Chancellor Olaf Scholz previously requested. Scholz probably didn’t expect this and was forced to quickly change his position by announcing that Germany is transferring Leopard-2 to Ukraine, the newspaper writes.

On Jan. 25, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz officially announced that Germany would transfer 14 Leopard-2 tanks to Ukraine and approve their re-export from partner countries. According to German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, the tanks could be sent to Ukraine in about three months.

The same day, U.S. President Joe Biden announced plans to supply 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, along with the equipment and spare parts needed to keep them running. Biden added that while the delivery of Abrams will take some time, the training of Ukrainian crews will begin as soon as possible.

According to German media reports, Scholz earlier told Biden that he would approve the transfer of German Leopard tanks to Ukraine if Washington supplied Kyiv with Abrams. German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius subsequently denied this precondition was ever mentioned.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba earlier said Ukraine will initially receive 120-140 tanks from at least 12 of its international partners.

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