American lawmakers pushed their government on Sunday to export M1 Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine, saying that even sending a symbolic number would help push European allies to do the same. Washington has so far held off on promising its tanks, which run on fuel-hungry turbine engines it believes make less sense for Ukraine than Leopards.
Britain has said it would supply 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine. French President Emmanuel Macron said he did not rule out the possibility of sending Ukraine Leclerc tanks. The British and French tanks are much less widely available than Leopards.
A close ally of President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that deliveries of offensive weapons to Kyiv that threaten Russia’s territories would lead to a global catastrophe and make arguments against using weapons of mass destruction untenable.
Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, warned that the United States and NATO’s support of Ukraine was leading the world to a “terrible war”.
European Union foreign ministers were meeting on Monday to discuss more military aid for Ukraine. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he hoped they would approve another 500 million euro (US$545 million) tranche of support.
The ministers will also discuss using Russian assets frozen in Europe under sanctions – including 300 billion euros (US$327 billion) worth of the Russian central bank reserves – and using the money to help rebuild Ukraine from the war.
Since its invasion on Feb 24, 2022, which it has cast as defending itself from an aggressive West, Russia has taken control of parts of Ukraine and has said it will never return them. Ukraine has said that restoring its territorial integrity is not open for negotiation.
Also on Monday, Russia’s foreign intelligence service (SVR) accused Ukraine of storing Western-supplied arms at nuclear power stations across the country. It provided no evidence and Reuters was unable to verify the claims.
The SVR said US-supplied HIMARS rocket launchers, air defence systems and artillery ammunition had been delivered to the Rivne nuclear power station in the north-west of Ukraine.
Ukraine’s nuclear power stations have been the focus of attention since the start of the conflict. Russian forces seized the defunct Chornobyl nuclear power plant less than 48 hours after troops invaded, and also captured the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant – the largest in Europe – early in the war.
The United Nations nuclear watchdog has expressed grave concerns over attacks near the Zaporizhzhia plant, warning of the risk of a nuclear disaster.