Chancellor Olaf Scholz, one of Ukraine’s main supporters, renewed his pledges of aid but stressed that Kiev’s allies should not be hasty.
“Despite all the pressure to act, which there is undoubtedly, there must be caution before hecticness, cohesion before solo performances on this crucial issue,” said Scholz, who hesitated with taking new steps to help Ukraine.
Berlin last month agreed to supply German-made Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine and allow other countries to do the same. German officials, who were under intense pressure to send the Leopards, have since indicated they are disappointed that other countries have not offered more armaments.
Scholz called on “everyone who can supply such battle tanks” to do so. Germany will do everything “to make this decision easier for our partners”, for example by training Ukrainian soldiers or helping with logistics.
The need to provide Ukraine with billions of dollars worth of military aid has weighed on allied countries at times. Having received Western pledges of tanks and more ammunition, Kiev is now hoping for fighter jets, but some countries have refused to send them.
French President Emmanuel Macron supported Zelenskyy’s appeal.
“We must be credible together,” Macron told the assembly, “because only then can Russia return to the negotiating table in an acceptable manner and create a sustainable peace.” That is: at a time and under conditions chosen by the Ukrainians.”
For the first time in two decades, the conference organizers did not invite Russian officials to Munich. It was the latest snub as Western countries attempt to diplomatically isolate Russia over the invasion, which began on February 24, 2022.
US Vice President Kamala Harris was scheduled to speak at the conference on Saturday, Munich time. She will outline what is at stake in the war and why it is important to maintaining US support for Ukraine as long as needed, the White House said.
“We will ensure that we do everything in our power to strengthen Ukraine’s position on the battlefield. So when it comes to negotiations, Ukraine will take the strongest position in a negotiation,” Harris told MSNBC in an interview that aired on Friday.
She also met with Macron on Friday, who thanked the US for its “commitment to the security of this continent.”
Polish President Andrzej Duda said Russia’s invasion must be stopped or it will not end with Ukraine.
“So there is no other option but to support Ukraine as best we can,” he said.
In other developments, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said US intelligence has estimated that more than 30,000 Wagner Group mercenaries were killed or wounded while fighting on behalf of Russia in Ukraine.
About half of the Wagner deaths have been killed since December, Kirby said.
The US believes about 90 percent of those killed were convicts whom Wagner pulled out of prison to join the fight, he added.
https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/no-alternative-to-speed-zelensky-pushes-for-hasty-support-for-ukraine-to-save-lives-20230218-p5cll8.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_world Volodymyr Zelenskyy urges quick support of Ukraine to save lives