German Chancellor Olaf Scholz delivers a speech in front of a Leopard 2 tank during a visit to a military base of the German army Bundeswehr in Bergen, Germany on October 17, 2022+3View gallery
Ukrainian service members look for and collect unexploded shells after a fighting with Russian raiding group in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on February 26, 2022+3View gallery
Vladimir Putin meets with the Belgorod region governor Vyacheslav Gladkov at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on January 24, 2023
Poland also upped the ante by putting forward a formal application for the delivery of the German-made tanks from its stocks to Ukraine.
But in Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was battling a deepening corruption scandal within his government, sacking several officials over graft while others resigned.
Ukraine and several of its allies have been urging Germany for weeks to allow the delivery of the Leopards, but a US-led meeting of Kyiv’s allies in Germany last week failed to yield a decision.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Moscow shows no signs of changing course in its invasion, noting that Russia has mobilised more than 200,000 troops and is acquiring new weapons from countries like North Korea or Iran.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the delivery of the tanks would ‘bring nothing good to the future relationship’ between Berlin and Moscow.
Under Germany’s war weapons control rules, countries using German-made armaments are required to seek Berlin’s permission if they wish to transfer them to a third party.
Poland, one of the loudest voices calling for permission to send Leopard tanks, said earlier this month it was ready to deliver 14 of them to Kyiv within the framework of an international coalition of countries.
As Ukraine marked 11 months since the start of the war on Tuesday, Zelensky urged his troops to keep up the fight against Russia.
But the comments came with Zelensky battling a widening corruption scandal as his defence ministry was shaken by accusations of food procurement fraud.
Local media reports last week accused the ministry of having signed a deal at prices ‘two to three times higher’ than current rates for basic foodstuffs.
Several officials resigned on Tuesday over the allegations, including a deputy defence minister, two deputy ministers of development of communities and territories, and a deputy minister of social policy.
Ukraine has a history of endemic corruption, including among the political elite, but efforts to stamp out graft have been overshadowed by the war.
Kyiv’s Western allies, who have allocated billions of dollars in financial and military support, have been pushing for anti-corruption reforms for years, sometimes as a precondition for aid.