NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has called on the allies to send more heavy armored weapons to Ukraine amid intensified fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces.
“We are in a crucial phase of the war. We are now seeing heavy fighting. It is therefore important that we equip Ukraine with the weapons it needs to be able to win – and survive as an independent nation,” Stoltenberg said in an interview with German daily Handelsblatt.
His remarks came ahead of a meeting of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Western counterparts later this week to discuss sending further heavy weapons to Ukraine.
Stoltenberg welcomed recent statements from the US, the UK, and France to send battle tanks and armoured fighting vehicles to Ukraine.
“The recent commitments for heavy weapons are important – and I expect more in the near future,” he said.
Austin will host the Ukraine Contact Group meeting on Friday at the Ramstein Air Force Base in southwestern Germany.
Despite repeated calls by its Western partners, the German government has been hesitant so far to deliver Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine.
German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall said on Sunday that it could deliver refurbished Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine in 2024 at the earliest.
While Poland has announced its intention to send a company of German-made Leopard 2 tanks to the country this year, it needs the approval of the German government. As a rule, the transfer of armaments from German production to third parties must be approved by Berlin.
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