Direct criticism of Berlin also came from Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham after a visit to Kyiv on Friday. “I’m sick of the ‘city show’ around who’s going to send tanks and when,” he blasted on Twitter. “To the Germans: Send tanks to Ukraine because they need them. (…) To the Biden administration: Send American tanks so others will follow our example”.
In Ramstein, Germany, fifty or so countries on Friday disagreed on sending heavy tanks to Kyiv, despite repeated requests by Kyiv.
Quoted by The Voice of America, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov nevertheless hinted that Ukrainian soldiers would soon receive training on Leopards in Poland: “We’ll start that and we’ll see the rest,” he declared.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, for his part, insisted there was “a window of opportunity between now and spring” to deliver Western tanks.
According to Russia, sending such devices will not change anything on the ground, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accusing the West of keeping the “illusion” of a possible Ukrainian victory.
However, for many experts, modern heavy tanks will be a real advantage for Kiev in the battles in eastern Ukraine, where Russia has resumed the offensive after suffering a severe setback in the fall.
In the queue, Volodymyr Zelensky and Olena Zelenska and several other Ukrainian leaders paid their last respects on Saturday morning to Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi, who died in a helicopter crash with 13 others on Wednesday.
An AFP journalist noted that the president and his wife were dressed in black and brought flowers. Seven coffins were brought in and carried by men in military uniform inside the building where the ceremony took place, which is located very close to Maidan Square in the heart of Kew. A blue and yellow Ukrainian flag was placed on each coffin, next to which were black and white portraits of the victims.
In the audience, family members of the victims stood side by side, some in tears. At the end of the moderator’s speech, “Glory to our heroes”, was launched into the hearts of those present.
Outside, Ukrainian and European flags were at half-mast. There was heavy police security around the building.
Mr Monastyrskyi’s funeral is due to take place later on Saturday at a historic cemetery in the Ukrainian capital’s city centre.