Russia says Germany spurning ‘historical responsibility’, escalating conflict by sending tanks to Kyiv

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Jan 25 (Reuters) – The Russian embassy in Germany said on Wednesday that Berlin’s decision to approve the delivery of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine meant it was abandoning its “historical responsibility to Russia” arising from Nazi crimes in World War Two.

In a statement, the embassy said that the decision would escalate the conflict to a new level.

“This extremely dangerous decision takes the conflict to a new level of confrontation and contradicts the statements of German politicians about the unwillingness of the Federal Republic of Germany to be drawn into it,” Ambassador Sergei Nechayev said.

German defence minister: we will not become party to war

Germany will support Ukraine as long as necessary but without becoming a warring faction, Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said on Wednesday, after Berlin announced its decision to approve the delivery of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

“We will not become a party to the war, we will make sure of that,” Pistorius said in Berlin.

Germany discussed with countries including Canada, Spain and Portugal how to best proceed and expects it will take several months until the tanks will be operable in Ukraine, he said.

Spain open to sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine, minister says

Spain is open to providing German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, Defence Minister Margarita Robles said on Wednesday after Germany agreed to send the tanks and allow other NATO allies to do the same.

She told EFE news agency Spain would act in coordination with the Western allies helping Ukraine fend off the Russian invasion.

According to security and defence researcher Felix Arteaga of the Elcano think-tank, Spain has 108 2A4 tanks. About half of these tanks are in the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla and 53 are in reserve and would need to be refit, Arteaga said, adding that it would likely take a few months to prepare them.

In Other Developments:

* The Russian-installed governor of Ukraine’s Donetsk region said units of the Wagner contract militia were advancing in the town of Bakhmut, with fighting taking place in previously Ukrainian-held neighbourhoods.

* Ukraine’s military spokesperson, Serhiy Cherevatyi, has said Ukrainian forces have withdrawn from the eastern town of Soledar in the Donetsk region, according to the country’s state broadcaster Suspilne.

ARMAMENTS

* The United States is poised to start a process that would eventually send dozens of M1 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine, two U.S. officials told Reuters.

* A Swiss parliamentary body proposed waiving a re-export ban that prevents ammunition made in Switzerland from being re-exported from another country to Ukraine.

* Norway is considering whether to send some of its German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, Oslo-based newspapers Aftenposten and Dagens Naeringsliv reported.

* A delivery of tanks by the United States to Ukraine would be a “another blatant provocation” against Russia, Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador, said.

* The Russian Defence Ministry said the frigate Admiral Gorshkov had tested its strike capabilities in the western Atlantic, running a computer simulation on hypersonic Zircon missiles.

CIVILIANS

* The Ukrainian Red Cross said it was preparing for more aid to the civil population in war zones in light of a possible new Russian offensive.

UKRAINIAN POLITICS

* President Volodymyr Zelenskiy fired a slew of senior officials on Tuesday in the biggest political shake-up of the war, saying he needed to clean up internal problems that were hurting Ukraine.

* Ukraine’s ruling party drew up a bill aiming to boost transparency in defence procurement after an army food contract became the focus of high-profile corruption allegations, according to parliament’s website.

* Democratic and Republican U.S. lawmakers praised Ukraine’s government for taking swift action.

RUSSIAN ECONOMY

* President Vladimir Putin said there were shortages of some medicines in Russia and that prices had gone up, despite the production of more of its own drugs.

* The Kremlin said it wanted skilled workers based abroad to return to Russia and work to benefit the country, after hundreds of thousands of people fled abroad in the past year.

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