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  • Writer's pictureAnton Kuchuhidze

International Press Review dated 16 - 20 January 2023

The week seemed turned out to be extremely eventful in terms of updating the issue of the transfer of Western tanks to Ukraine. Almost every authoritative international media devoted a story to this topic.

From the analysis of many sources, it becomes clear that the possibility of transferring German tanks to Ukraine is gradually being unlocked. This is actually confirmed by German officials in their statements. Poland takes an active stance as well, calling for the transfer of 100 powerful tanks.

In addition to military topics and the transfer of weapons, there were also articles related to Ukraine's future membership in NATO. I think many observers were surprised by the fundamentally opposite position that the former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has taken. At the forum in Davos, he noted that the neutral status of Ukraine no longer has any meaning and validity, and also expressed his opinion that Ukraine's membership in NATO is absolutely possible and can lead to a good result. We should also add the strong support of the Alliance itself. At the World Economic Forum, Mr. Stoltenberg also emphasized the need to greatly increase the range of weapons transferred to Ukraine, and also called for greater efficiency in strengthening the defence capabilities of our country.

We see that the Ukrainian defence and security forces continue to do real miracles on the battlefield, and many international issues are solved in favour of Ukraine. This situation once again confirms that the political future of Ukraine today is actually being decided on the battlefield. Subjectivity of Ukraine and the ability to achieve certain political results will be as strong as our military operations will be effective.

Some time ago, we heard many appeals and political statements from President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky about the need to provide Ukraine with offensive and heavy weapons. This week, it seems that leaders of European states and institutions are now speaking using the same theses. That is, a turning point has been gradually achieved in the openness of Western partners to this issue and to more open diplomacy regarding the promotion of the case for increasing the transfer of weapons. This once again confirms that neither the President of Ukraine, nor the Minister of Foreign Affairs, nor the Minister of Defence will have to convince anyone of anything in 2023. Everyone already understands that. From the point of view of the content analysis of communication materials we see that the positions of Ukraine and the West regarding the transfer of heavy weapons are in sync, and this cannot but please. Let us follow the developments further.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he’s in talks with allies over potentially supplying heavy tanks to Ukraine, but cautioned that any announcements would have to come in lockstep with others.

“I am always thinking about the situation,” Scholz said in an interview on Tuesday with Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait. “We always act together with our allies and friends — we never go alone.”

The chancellor won some respite earlier this month with an agreement to send 40 Marder combat vehicles and a Patriot air-defense system to Ukraine as part of a joint announcement with the US, yet the calls for more powerful Leopard tanks have continued.

Poland is working to convince European allies to send as many as 100 battle tanks to support Ukraine’s defense efforts against the Russian invasion, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Tuesday that he’s in talks with allies over potentially supplying German-made heavy Leopard tanks to Ukraine, but cautioned that any announcements would have to come in lockstep with others.

The German government is in position to deliver dozens of Leopard tanks for Ukraine, which could significantly boost Kyiv’s capabilities. Twelve other European countries have Leopards in their arsenals, but they need Berlin’s approval before they can transfer the armor.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger advocated for Ukraine’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

“Before this war, I was opposed to membership of Ukraine in NATO, because I feared that it would start exactly the process that we are seeing now,” Mr. Kissinger said remotely at a session of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “The idea of a neutral Ukraine under these conditions is no longer meaningful. I believe Ukrainian membership in NATO would be a[n] appropriate outcome.”

Once again, "the British gents" have fired the first round. Already at the forefront of military support for Ukraine, the British government announced on Saturday, January 14 the delivery, "in the coming weeks," of 14 Challenger 2 heavy tanks to Kyiv's soldiers. It represents a first for a Western country since the entry of Russian troops onto Ukrainian soil. The delivery reflects "the ambition of the United Kingdom to intensify our support to Ukraine," said Downing Street after a telephone conversation between British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Until now, the delivery of heavy tanks to Ukraine had constituted a red line for Kyiv's Western allies, who believed that supplying such powerful equipment could lead to an escalation with Moscow. But the intensification of Russian strikes on civilian populations, and the prospect of a long war if no additional aid is given to Ukraine, have finally convinced a number of countries to take the step. In addition to Great Britain, Finland and Poland have said they are ready to send tanks to Ukraine.

Ukraine needs a "significant increase" in weapons at a pivotal moment in Russia's invasion and such support is the only way to a negotiated peaceful solution, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.

Defence leaders from around 50 countries and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will hold talks at Germany's Ramstein Air Base on Friday, the latest in a series of meetings since Russian forces swept into Ukraine nearly 11 months ago.

"This is a pivotal moment in the war and the need for a significant increase in support for Ukraine," Stoltenberg told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

"If we want a negotiated peaceful solution tomorrow we need to provide more weapons today."

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