BERLIN, Feb 6 (Reuters) – Germany expects that it will soon have sufficient commitments from other European Union countries to send a promised contingent of Leopard-2 tanks to Ukraine, a German government spokesperson said on Monday.
“Germany’s commitment stands,” government spokesperson Wolfgang Buechner said. He declined to name any specific countries that had so far committed to sending the German-made tank, which Ukraine says it needs to repel Russian invaders from its territory.
Germany has promised 14 of its own tanks and wants to assemble two full battalions of the battle tank in cooperation with other EU countries.
In Other Developments
* Ukraine sent mixed messages over the fate of its defence minister on Monday, leaving a key post in its war effort in doubt even as it braces for a new Russian offensive.
FATE OF DEFENCE MINISTER
* The head of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s party’s fraction in parliament said there would be no personnel changes in the defence sector, only a day after he said Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov would be replaced.
* David Arakhamia had said the new defence minister would be Kyrylo Budanov, chief of the GUR military intelligence agency.
* Zelenskiy has not publicly commented on the proposed change, and Reznikov said he had not been informed of it.
* Zelenskiy has fired a series of high level officials this year in a purge aimed at clamping down on corruption. Reznikov had been under pressure over a corruption scandal in the ministry.
FIGHTING IN EAST
* Serhiy Haidai, Kyiv’s governor of mainly Russian-occupied Luhansk province, said Moscow was pouring in reinforcements for an offensive that could begin as soon as next week.
* Fierce battles being fought in Ukraine’s Donetsk region “are very difficult,” Zelenskiy said, as Kyiv braced for a possible Russian offensive this month before the first anniversary of its invasion of Ukraine.
* The head of the U.N. nuclear agency, the IAEA, will visit Moscow this week, but the Kremlin said he will not meet President Vladimir Putin.
* Price caps on Russian oil likely hit Moscow’s revenues from oil and gas exports by nearly 30% in January, or about $8 billion, from the period a year ago period, International Energy Agency (IEA) chief Fatih Birol said on Sunday.
* Ukraine has sent letters to companies that back the International Olympic Committee urging them to keep Russian athletes out of the Paris Olympic Games, President Zelenskiy said.