Kyiv Eyes 140 Western Tanks

Reuters file photo
A Leopard 2 tank of the German army Bundeswehr takes part in an exercise during a media day in Munster, Germany September 28, 2018.

KYIV (AFP-Jiji) — Ukraine said Tuesday it was expecting up to 140 modern tanks from its Western allies, as Russian forces claimed new ground close to the frontline hotspot of Bakhmut.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba gave the estimate that a dozen countries had promised more than 100 tanks after Germany and Washington signed off on the deliveries last week.

“Ukraine’s armed forces will receive between 120 and 140 modern Western tanks,” Kuleba said, describing the figure as the “first wave of contributions.”

“These are Leopard 2, Challenger 2, M1 Abrams,” added the foreign minister without specifying a timeline for the deliveries.

Kuleba noted too that Kyiv was “very much counting on” France to pass over to the Ukrainian military its Leclerc battle tank.

The decision to supply the weapons came after weeks of diplomatic wrangling and was seen as a breakthrough in the West’s backing for Ukraine in its fight to win back territory from Russian forces.