The first Leopard 2 tank supplied by Canada to bolster Ukraine’s defences arrived as warnings grew around a “symbolic” Russian offensive to mark the one-year anniversary of its invasion.
Canadian defence minister Anita Anand shared a picture of the tank arriving in Poland, where Ukraine’s forces will be trained to use it.
At least 80 of the elite armoured vehicles have been promised by the West to help Kyiv’s forces. Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky warned in his address to the nation last night that the country was bracing for a possible major Russian offensive this month.
“There are already many reports that the occupiers want to do something symbolic in February to try to avenge their last year’s defeats,” Mr Zelensky said. “We see this increased pressure in various areas of the front line, as well as pressure in the information field.”
Moscow launched its full-scale invasion on February 24 last year. Ukraine’s outgoing defence minister Oleksii Reznikov said not all Western weaponry will have arrived by the start of the fresh Russian assault.
He also confirmed that troops would start training on the German-made Leopard tanks from today. The United States has promised to send 31 Abrams tanks, but they are not expected to arrive until the end of the year.
Mr Reznikov, who is to be moved into another government post, said Ukraine had secured new missiles with a range of 90-miles, but they will not be used against Russian territory — only against Russian units in occupied areas of Ukraine.
“I am sure that we will win this war,” added Mr Reznikov, but he added that without the delivery of Western fighter jets, “it will cost us more lives”. Mr Zelensky warned in his address that it was “very difficult in the Donetsk region”.
It came as the head of Russia’s private Wagner militia said yesterday that fierce fighting was ongoing in the northern parts of Bakhmut, the focus of Russian forces’ attention for weeks.