NATO hints at more heavy weapons for Ukraine

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NATO’s secretary general said Ukraine could expect more deliveries of heavy weapons from western countries soon.

The recent pledges for heavy warfare equipment are important – and I expect more in the near future,” Jens Stoltenberg told Germany’s Handelsblatt daily on Sunday.

Western allies will consider sending battle tanks to Kyiv ahead of a meeting in Ramstein in Germany next Friday where governments are expected to announce their latest pledges of military support.

Zelenskiy has pleaded for more western weaponry, saying that Russian “terror” could be stopped only on the battlefield.

Earlier this month, France, Germany and the United States respectively promised French AMX-10 RC light tanks, 40 German Marder infantry vehicles, and 50 Bradley fighting vehicles.

However, pressure is growing on the allies to go further and agree to delivery of battle tanks.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged Saturday to provide 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, making it the first western country to supply the heavy tanks Kyiv has been calling for.

Russia’s embassy in Britain warned that “bringing tanks to the conflict zone… will only serve to intensify combat operations, generating more casualties, including among the civilian population”.

In Other Developments

BELARUS DRILLS

* Belarus said its air force drills with Russia are defensive in nature, but the move comes as concerns grow that Moscow is pushing Minsk to join the war in Ukraine.

* Russia and Belarus began joint air force drills on Monday, which have triggered fears in Kyiv and the West that Moscow could use its ally to launch a new ground offensive in Ukraine.

* Ukraine has continuously warned of possible attacks from Belarus, but the Kremlin has denied that it has been pressuring its neighbour to take a more active role in the conflict in Ukraine. Minsk has said it will not enter the war.

* Pavel Muraveyko, first deputy state secretary of Belarusian Security Council, said the situation on the country’s southern border with Ukraine was “not very calm” and that Ukraine has been “provoking” Belarus.

DNIPRO SURVIVORS

* Ukraine saw little hope of pulling any more survivors from the rubble of an apartment block in the city of Dnipro on Sunday, a day after the building was hit during a major Russian missile attack.

* Valentyn Reznichenko, governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, said on Monday that 35 people were confirmed dead so far and the fate of 35 more residents remained unknown.

* The chances are “minimal” of finding more survivors in the wreckage, the city’s mayor told Reuters in an interview.

* Russia’s defence ministry said its forces had launched a wave of missile strikes against Ukrainian military and infrastructure sites on Saturday. It did not mention Dnipro as a specific target.

SOLEDAR

* Ukrainian forces are fighting to retain control of Soledar in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar said on Sunday, contradicting Russian claims that Moscow’s forces had captured the small town.

* Russian President Vladimir Putin said the special military operation – Russia’s term for the war – was showing a positive trend.

* Reuters could not verify the accounts.

ARMS, DIPLOMACY

* Britain will send 14 of its Challenger 2 main battle tanks and artillery support to Ukraine, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office said on Saturday, disregarding criticism from the Russian Embassy.

* Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Saturday the G7 summit he will host in May should demonstrate a strong will to uphold the international order and rule of law after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Photo: Ukraine MOD

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