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Germany refuses to give Ukraine battle tanks before US provides its own: WSJ

The State Department referred Al Arabiya English to Tuesday’s White House press briefing.

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Germany said Wednesday that it would not send its tanks or allow its allies to send German-made tanks to Ukraine before the US agrees to send battle tanks of their own, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

“One can’t differentiate between direct exports (of German-made tanks) and exports by third countries,” a senior German official told the Journal.

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Berlin has upped its military aid to Kyiv in contrast to its initial policy at the start of last year’s Russian invasion when it offered helmets to Ukraine.

Earlier this month, Germany said it would follow the US and provide a Patriot air defense missile battery to Ukraine.

But a number of European countries have voiced their readiness to send German-made tanks to Ukraine; however, they await a greenlight from Germany.

Germany has the highly sought-after Leopard 2 battle tank and has sold these tanks to Finland, Denmark and Poland.

According to officials who spoke to the Wall Street Journal, Germany has around 15 Leopard 2 tanks that it could provide Ukraine in the short run.

Ukraine has been using Soviet-era T-72 tanks, but is seeking a better tank to be able to take back territories occupied by Russia.

In November, the US pledged 45 refurbished T-72B tanks with advanced optics, communications and armor packages for Ukraine.

The US, which is by far the number one supplier of military aid to Ukraine, recently vowed to send Bradley Fighting Vehicles to Ukraine - the closest to a US-made tank that Washington has promised to date.

And US officials have been wary of sending battle tanks, repeatedly raising fears that it could further escalate or drag Washington directly into the conflict.

The same concerns had been made by Biden administration officials since the start of the Russian invasion, which has seen the US go from providing Stinger missiles to Patriot missile defense batteries and other sophisticated weaponry that Moscow warned against providing.

The United Kingdom also said it planned to give Ukrainian forces over a dozen Challenger 2 battle tanks.

Al Arabiya English has reached out to the Pentagon. The State Department referred Al Arabiya English to Tuesday’s White House press briefing.

Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said it was up to each country to make their own sovereign decisions. Jean-Pierre did say that the US supported London’s decision to send battle tanks to Ukraine.

Separately on Wednesday, the New York Times reported that the Biden administration was now softening its stance on totally rejecting Ukrainian hopes to target occupied Crimea.

US officials reportedly believe that Ukraine needs to show Russia that control of Crimea could be reversed as it seeks a strengthened hand in any future negotiations, according to the NYT.

Read more: US announces $1.85 bln weapons package for Ukraine, including Patriot missile

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