Germanys WW3 fears shut down as international tank coalition to sto

Russian propagandist says if we don’t win the world will disappear

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The Defence Secretary said long-range artillery systems donated by Germany, the UK and America “are far more potent”.

He said Berlin’s primary concern is that they will be “going it alone” if they approve export licences for nations to send Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine.

Ukrainian commanders want 300 Western fighting machines to form a major part of their expected Spring offensive. They are urging allies to form an “international tank coalition”.

The UK is donating 14 Challenger 2 tanks and Poland and Finland want to gift Leopard 2 tanks. Defence officials say the British tanks will be on the battlefield “in the coming months”.

British tank commander Major Mark Lambert said the Challenger 2s have “world beating” armour.

He added: “It was designed to fight Russian T-series tanks in Eastern Europe and that’s what it is going to do.”

Mr Wallace, speaking in Estonia where British troops lead a NATO battlegroup, said: “I don’t think a tank is escalatory. And when you use a tank to defend your nation, it is a defensive weapon.

“Ukraine is not interested in invading anyone else.

“Germany’s concerns are about ‘going it alone’. The one thing I can say is that, since February, no one has gone alone. We have all done it together. This is a coalition that has come together, not through a NATO coordination, not through a sort of desire to attack Russia.

“I don’t think a tank is remotely escalatory. If you look at the effect HIMARs and ML270s have on the Russian position, on the Russian leadership, there are three countries that have put those into Ukraine, Germany, Britain and the United States.

“On one level, they are far more potent than a traditional Challenger or a Leopard tank. They go 70 kilometres, their precision is extraordinary and I think you only have to see the open source to see the impact of it.”

Ukraine has vowed to “use these weapons responsibly and exclusively for the purposes of protecting the territorial integrity of Ukraine”.

Foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defence minister Oleksii Reznikov said in a joint statement: “We appeal to all these and other countries possessing appropriate capabilities to join the initiative on establishment of an international tank coalition in support of Ukraine and make their practical contributions to this cause.

“We urge you to do this for the sake of millions of peaceful citizens of Ukraine, who will remain in mortal danger from Russia… if the Armed Forces of Ukraine do not receive the necessary reinforcements in a timely manner.”

European defence ministers met in Tapa, Estonia, to thrash out extra support they can provide to Ukraine ahead of Friday’s crucial summit of around 50 allies in Ramstein, Germany.

Representatives from the UK, Estonia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Slovakia on Thursday signed “the Tallinn Pledge”, which will give Ukraine a “new level of combat power”.

This is “only achieved by combinations of main battle tank squadrons, beneath air and missile defence, operating alongside divisional artillery groups, and further deep precision fires enabling targeting of Russian logistics and command nodes in occupied territory.”

Pressure has intensified on Germany over recent days to allow allies with Leopard tanks – which are German made – to be sent to Ukraine.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said “we are never doing something just by ourselves, but together with others, especially the US”.

Diplomats are concerned Mr Scholz is waiting for President Joe Biden to commit American M1 Abram battle tanks to Ukraine.

Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki has suggested he could go at it alone as Warsaw grows tiresome of Germany’s refusals to sanction the delivery of Leopard II tanks to Ukraine.

The US is gearing up to announce a major new US weapons package for Ukraine on Friday, but is not expected to include M1 Abrams.

The Defence Secretary also warned the hardest fights are yet to come as Ukrainian forces will try to advance against a Russian military which “does not care how many of its own it kills”.

He said: “It is one thing to defend. It is always attritional to advance and you have to advance against a Russian army that, yes, is badly equipped, yes they are badly led.

“But they are also led by people who do not care about them. The meat grinder is standing staring them in the face.

“You are against a mindset that really doesn’t care how many of its own are killed.

“That is a hard fight on anyone’s watch.

“One of the ways to deal with that is not wave after wave of human beings, but through combined arms effect, putting together the armour and prosecuting a war in the way the West has designed itself.

“The West designed long ago to fight this way because we could not ever match, tank to tank, during the Cold War.

“If you just fire these [howitzers] and then do nothing for a couple days and then send your tanks, your tanks will just get blown up. You need to do it at the same time.”

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed the UK will send Ukraine another 600 Brimstone missiles.

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