A day after Germany failed to give the green light to supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks, defence ministers of the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania on Saturday urged Berlin to provide Kyiv the battle tanks “now”. The joint statement, a rare public rebuke of Europe’s top power, underscored the frustrations over Berlin’s hesitation. Read about the day’s events as they unfolded on our liveblog. All times Paris time (GMT+2).
1:27pm: Russian army launches ‘offensive operations’ in Zaporizhzhia
The Russian army has said its troops launched an offensive in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, where fighting this week intensified after several months of an almost frozen front.
In its daily report, Moscow’s forces said they led “offensive operations” in the region and claimed to have “taken more advantageous lines and positions”.
The announcement came a day after Ukraine’s energy minister said the situation at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station was deteriorating because of the psychological state of its Ukrainian staff and the condition of equipment.
The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is trying to set up a safe zone around the nuclear facility.
12:15pm: Germany faces Baltic backlash over tank supply refusal
The foreign ministers of the three Baltic states have called on Germany to supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks “now” to help stop Russian aggression.
“We, the Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian foreign ministers, call on Germany to provide Leopard tanks to Ukraine now,” Latvian Minister Edgars Rinkevics said on Twitter.
“This is necessary to stop Russian aggression, help Ukraine and quickly restore peace in Europe,” he added, stressing that “Germany, as the leading European power has a special responsibility in this regard.
We, 🇱🇻 🇪🇪 🇱🇹 Foreign Ministers, call on Germany to provide Leopard tanks to Ukraine now. This is needed to stop Russian aggression, help Ukraine and restore peace in Europe quickly. Germany as the leading European power has special responsibility in this regard.
— Edgars Rinkēvičs (@edgarsrinkevics) January 21, 2023
On Friday, following a meeting of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, Berlin said no decision had been made about providing the battle tanks, despite an emotional plea from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Expectations had grown ahead of the meeting in Germany that the allies would agree to send the German-made Leopard tanks, amid mounting pressure from several European countries.
11:06am: Ukraine adviser tells allies ‘think faster’ on military support
A senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged Kyiv’s allies to “think faster” about stepping up their military support, a day after they failed to agree on sending battle tanks coveted by Kyiv.
“You’ll help Ukraine with the necessary weapons anyway and realize that there is no other option to end the war except the defeat of Russia,” Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on Twitter.
“But today’s indecision is killing more of our people. Every day of delay is the death of Ukrainians. Think faster.”
Afterword to global indecision…
You’ll help Ukraine with the necessary weapons anyway and realize that there is no other option to end the war except the defeat of🇷🇺
But today’s indecision is killing more of our people. Every day of delay is the death of Ukrainians. Think faster
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) January 21, 2023
Ukraine’s partners this week pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in new military aid but were unable to agree on sending the German-made Leopard 2 tanks Kyiv during a conference at the Ramstein Air Base on Friday.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)