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Zelensky: German hesitancy to supply Ukraine with tanks is not ‘the right strategy’

Speaking to Davos via video, Ukrainian president reiterates intention to reclaim Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014: ‘Give us your weapons and we will bring our land back’

Illustrative: A Leopard 2 tank during a demonstration by the German military near Hannover, Germany, September 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, file)
Illustrative: A Leopard 2 tank during a demonstration by the German military near Hannover, Germany, September 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, file)

DAVOS, Switzerland — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky criticized hesitation by Germany over supplying Kyiv with its modern Leopard tanks, with reports saying Berlin will only provide them if the US offers its Abrams tanks as well.

“There are times where we shouldn’t hesitate or shouldn’t compare. When someone says ‘I will give tanks if someone else will also share tanks,'” Zelensky told an audience in Davos by videolink, “I don’t think this is the right strategy to go with.”

He also reiterated his intention of reclaiming Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, as he called on his Western partners to provide him with more weaponry.

“Our objective is to liberate all of our territories,” he said, speaking in Ukrainian. “Crimea is our land, our territory, our sea, and our mountains. Give us your weapons and we will bring our land back.”

Ukraine’s Western allies and arms suppliers are set to meet on Friday at the US-run Ramstein base in Germany.

“We need all the strength there is out there because we are fighting against all of this tyranny,” he said, adding: “We can not just do it [the fight] with motivation and morale.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is displayed via video link at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, January 18, 2023. (Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

He compared weapons to a “vaccine against Russian tyranny.”

Asked about fighting on the frontlines, he said there was “no stagnation” but there was a “slowdown” during the winter.

Zelensky was also asked whether a helicopter crash that killed the country’s interior minister and 13 others on Wednesday near Kyiv was an “accident or something more sinister.”

“The investigation is ongoing. There are several theories and I’m not authorized to talk about any of them until the investigation is finished,” Zelensky replied.

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