International

New German defense minister will soon travel to Ukraine, reports Bild am Sonntag

FRANKFURT, Jan 21 (Reuters) – Germany’s new Defense Minister Boris Pistorius plans to visit Ukraine soon, he told a German newspaper, as Berlin faces pressure to allow German-made tanks to be sent to Ukraine.

“What is certain is that I will travel to Ukraine quickly. Probably even within the next four weeks,” Pistorius told Bild am Sonntag in an interview published on Sunday.

Germany and its Western allies failed to reach a decision on Friday on whether Germany would agree to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine or allow other countries that have them to do so, despite Ukraine’s pleas for modern tanks to boost its defense efforts. .

When asked about the tanks, Pistorius said in the interview: “We are in a very close dialogue with our international partners, first of all with the US, on this issue.”

German sources have told Reuters they would allow German-made tanks to be sent to Ukraine to help its defense against Russia if the United States agrees to send its own tanks. But US officials have said that President Joe Biden’s administration is not prepared to send its own tanks, including the M1 Abrams.

Pistorius became defense minister last week, months after Germany’s “Zeitenwende,” or the new era of a more assertive foreign policy backed by more military spending, which Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced on February 27, days after of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Pistorius also told Bild am Sonntag that he would aim for Germany’s military to take the leading role in the European Union.

“Germany is the largest economy in Europe, so it should also be our goal to have the strongest and best-equipped army in the EU,” he told the newspaper.

Reporting by Tom Sims; Edited by David Holmes

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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