February 7, 2023

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NATO Secretary General Hints at More Heavy Weapons Shipments to Ukraine | NATO News

Jens Stoltenberg says he expects more arms shipments to war-torn Ukraine after the UK pledged its Challenger 2 tanks.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has praised recent pledges to deliver heavy weapons from Western allies to Ukraine, saying he expects more “in the near future”.

The head of the transatlantic military alliance made the remarks on Sunday, a day after a wave of Russian attacks across Ukraine again targeted critical infrastructure and left at least 30 dead after bombing an apartment building in the eastern city of Dnipro.

“The recent pledges of heavy war equipment are important – and I expect more in the near future,” Stoltenberg told German daily Handelsblatt ahead of a meeting on Friday of defense officials from the bloc aimed at coordinating arms transfers to Kyiv. What NATO refers to as the Ukraine Defense Contact Group is scheduled to hold its third meeting at the US Ramstein Air Base in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate on Friday.

Asked if Germany should also move to supply heavy weapons to Ukraine, Stoltenberg said: “We are at a decisive stage in the war.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday called for more heavy Western weapons, saying Russian “terrorism” can only be stopped on the battlefield.

“What is needed for this? Those weapons that are in the warehouses of our partners,” Zelensky said in his nightly speech.

He spoke shortly after UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged to supply Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, making it the first Western country to supply heavy tanks to Kyiv.

Poland and Finland have also indicated their willingness to supply German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, increasing pressure on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his coalition government.

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The trend represents a potential broader shift for European allies, who have resisted directly supplying heavy weapons to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24, 2022.

It comes amid Russian claims of its first major success on the battlefield after months of losses and stagnation. Last week, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that it had “completed the liberation” of Solidar, a city near the transport crossroads of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region.

Ukraine denied the allegations and said heavy fighting continued in Solidar.

The US-based Institute for the Study of War said Sunday that “Ukrainian forces are unlikely to hold positions within the Solidar settlement itself.”