Ukraine to receive 120-140 tanks in 'first wave' of deliveries - minister

  • World
  • Tuesday, 31 Jan 2023

FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks during the NATO foreign ministers meeting in Bucharest, Romania November 29, 2022. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine will receive 120 to 140 Western tanks in a "first wave" of deliveries from a coalition of 12 countries, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Tuesday.

Kyiv secured pledges from the West this month to supply main battle tanks to help fend off Russia's full-scale invasion, with Moscow mounting huge efforts to make incremental advances in eastern Ukraine.

"The tank coalition now has 12 members. I can note that in the first wave of contributions, the Ukrainian armed forces will receive between 120 and 140 Western-model tanks," Kuleba said during an online briefing.

He said those tanks would include the German Leopard 2, the British Challenger 2 and the U.S. M1 Abrams, and that Ukraine was also "really counting" on supplies of French Leclerc tanks being agreed.

Kuleba gave no timeline for any of the deliveries. Time will also be needed for training with the tanks.

Kuleba said Kyiv was working behind the scenes to win over more countries to supply tanks at what officials say is a critical time in the war.

"... We continue to work on both expanding the membership of the tank coalition and increasing the contributions of those already pledged," he said.

Kyiv plans to launch a major counteroffensive to recapture swathes of territory taken by Russia in the south and east of the country.

The United States has told Kyiv to hold off on those plans until Western military assistance has arrived in Ukraine.

Ukraine is also concerned that Russia could launch its own major offensive in the coming weeks or months.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Timothy Heritage)

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