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Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba hit back at Germany in a fiery message on Twitter Tuesday after Berlin refused to provide Kyiv with military vehicles earlier in the week.
“Disappointing signals from Germany while Ukraine needs Leopards and Marders now – to liberate people and save them from genocide. Not a single rational argument on why these weapons cannot be supplied, only abstract fears and excuses,” Kuleba said in an uncharacteristically aggressive message. “What is Berlin afraid of that Kyiv is not?”
The foreign minister’s condemnation came after Germany on Monday rejected Ukraine’s pleas for tanks and other vehicles as it appears to gain momentum in its war with Russia.
Germany has come under fire at home and abroad for apparent hesitancy to provide arms to Ukraine amid Russia’s illegal invasion.
Though Berlin has provided substantial support, it has stopped short of providing Ukraine with Leopard 2 battle tanks – noting it cannot do so without the support of its NATO partners.
“No country has delivered Western-built infantry fighting vehicles or main battle tanks so far,” German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said Monday. “We have agreed with our partners that Germany will not take such action unilaterally.”
While the U.S. has not provided “battle tanks,” it has provided roughly 150 tactical vehicles, “hundreds of Armored High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles,” 40 mine resistant vehicles and 200 armored personnel carriers, according to a Department of Defense fact sheet released earlier this month.
In May, Germany also said it would help facilitate the transportation of Soviet-era tanks from Greece to Ukraine.
However, Lambrecht said her concerns went beyond acting outside the NATO-sanctioned status quo and said Germany needs to be confident in its own defense supplies.
“It’s not so simple just to say ‘I’ll just risk that we won’t be able to act, the defense of the country, by giving everything away’,” she reportedly said. “No, I won’t do that. But we have other possibilities, from industry, with our partners.”
Ukraine launched a major counter-offensive earlier this month that has seen some significant advances, particularly in the nation’s northeastern region of Kharkiv.
Senior U.S. defense officials on Monday assessed that Ukrainian forces had begun to push Russian troops back across its own borders.
On Saturday, a spokesman for Russia’s defense ministry said Moscow was “regrouping” its forces in the northeast – comments that echoed language from the Kremlin after Russia failed to take Kyiv in the early days of the war.
However, Ukraine has a long way to go before all of Russia’s troops are forced to retreat over its borders. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has vowed that Kyiv will not concede any territory to Russia – including Crimea, which has been occupied since 2014.