Ukraine’s foreign and defense ministers on Thursday urged Turkey and other allies to “considerably” boost arms deliveries to their war-torn country and send modern Leopard tanks, Agence France-Presse reported.
A joint statement from Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov came on the eve of a major donor meeting to be hosted by the United States at the Ramstein military base in Germany.
“We appeal to all partner states that have already provided military assistance or are planning to provide it with a call to considerably reinforce their practical contribution to strengthening Ukraine’s ability to defend itself,” Kuleba and Reznikov said in the statement.
They said Russia “retains a substantial quantitative advantage in troops, weapons and military equipment” and that the Kremlin is “determined to further escalate hostilities.”
The supply of modern armored vehicles is “one of the most pressing and urgent needs,” the ministers said.
The statement also said they “welcome the bold and very timely decision” of Britain — the first Western nation to pledge heavy tanks to Ukraine — to supply Challenger tanks but added, “it is not sufficient to achieve operational goals.”
They called on a dozen countries that have the advanced Leopard battle tanks, including Germany, Poland and Turkey, to send them to Ukraine.
“We guarantee that we will use these weapons responsibly and exclusively for the purpose of protecting the territorial integrity of Ukraine within internationally recognized borders,” they said.
‘Whole new level’
In Moscow, the Kremlin warned of escalating the conflict to a “whole new level” if the West answers Ukraine’s latest calls.
“Potentially, this is extremely dangerous,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
“It will mean bringing the conflict to a whole new level, which, of course, will not bode well from the point of view of global and pan-European security,” he added.
The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the Biden administration is considering the potential of Ukraine using American-supplied weapons against Russian targets in Crimea.
On Friday, the United States is to convene a meeting of around 50 countries — including all 30 members of NATO — at the US military base of Ramstein in Germany to discuss military aid to Ukraine.
“The main message there will be more support and more advanced support, heavier weapons, and more modern weapons, because this is a fight for our values,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said in Davos on Wednesday.
Many Ukrainian allies have recently announced plans to step up their military support to Kyiv. Last weekend Britain became the first Western nation to pledge heavy tanks.