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War in Ukraine, day 335 | Germany moves towards Leopard tank delivery deal



(Berlin) Under pressure for days, Germany opened the way on Tuesday for an authorization for allied countries to deliver Leopard heavy tanks insisted on by Ukraine, promising to respond “with the urgency required” to a Poland’s request to that effect.

On Tuesday evening, two German media, Spiegel and the NTV news channel, even assured that Chancellor Olaf Scholz was going to give the green light, probably on Wednesday.

The German leader, who is due to speak at 7 a.m. EST on Wednesday in the lower house of the German parliament, would also agree to countries, including Poland, wishing to deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv, according to these media.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government is wrestling with the biggest corruption scandal since the Russian invasion began nearly a year ago.

Four deputy ministers, including that of Defense Viatcheslav Shapovalov, as well as five governors and other officials had to leave their posts in the wake of this affair, announced the Ukrainian authorities.

In Berlin, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said he “expressly encouraged partner countries that have Leopard tanks ready for deployment to train Ukrainian forces on these tanks” during a press conference in Berlin with Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General.

These declarations constitute a step forward in the position of Germany, where the government of Olaf Scholz is under increasing pressure to give the green light to partner countries who wish so that they can deliver tanks to Ukraine. Assault Leopard, made in Germany.

So far, Finland and Poland have said they are ready to do so. Warsaw, which wants to create a “coalition of countries supporting Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks”, has officially sent a request to this effect, the receipt of which was confirmed by Berlin on Tuesday.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said he hoped for a quick response, “because the Germans are delaying, procrastinating, acting in a way that is difficult to understand”.

“clear message”

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg hailed the “clear message” from the new German Defense Minister, who has been in office for less than a week.

“Such deliveries will not bring anything good” to Russian-German relations, on the other hand reacted the spokesman of the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov.

According to observers, these tanks are likely to have a significant impact for the Ukrainians in the face of the steamroller of Russian troops who are regaining some ground on Ukraine’s eastern front.

On Monday, Poland had warned that it was ready to do without authorization from Berlin. This country, which says it is willing to send 14 Leopard 2s to Kyiv, is discussing this with about fifteen states, many European armies possessing such armored vehicles.

The fear of a military escalation with Moscow and his reluctance to make Germany assume leadership in the Western camp explain the Chancellor’s hesitations, according to analysts.

Ukraine overtaken by corruption

For Ukraine, the military and financial support of Western allies is crucial. She says she needs hundreds of modern tanks and other armaments for a new offensive.

“Today marks exactly eleven months since the start of the full-scale war. The 335e day. A day we’ll pass like the 334ejoining forces for victory,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

This day is also marked by the resurgence of an endemic evil in this country: corruption.

In addition to the Deputy Minister of Defence, that of Social Policy and two others of Territorial Development were removed from their posts after an alleged corruption scandal concerning army supplies, the first of this magnitude since February 24, 2022 .

Other dismissals had already recently taken place in Ukraine, which was ranked 122e place out of 180 on the NGO Transparency International’s corruption perception index in 2021.

On Sunday, Deputy Infrastructure Minister Vassyl Lozinsky was arrested, accused of receiving a $400,000 bribe to “facilitate” the purchase of generators at inflated prices, as his country faces a extensive power cuts following Russian strikes on energy facilities.

Mr. Zelensky has also asked his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that Russian athletes not be allowed to participate in the Paris Olympics in 2024.

“I particularly insisted on the fact that Russian athletes should not have their place at the Paris Olympics”, declared on Telegram Mr. Zelensky after a telephone interview with the French head of state.

In Russia, the authorities have finally given, for the first time since the start of hostilities eleven months ago, the toll of Russian civilian victims in a border region with Ukraine: according to Moscow, 25 people were killed and nearly 100 others injured by Ukrainian fire in the Belgorod region.

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