Russia urges West to abandon ‘delusion’ about helping Ukraine defeat it

No consensus reached among allies to provide German-made Leopard tanks to Kyiv, Berlin says

Russia urged the West to abandon its “delusion” about helping Ukraine defeat Moscow’s forces on the battlefield with supplies of advanced weaponry, which it claimed would only make life harder for Kyiv’s troops without increasing their chances of victory.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said western arms to Ukraine were only creating an “upward spiral” of violence and tension, as defence officials from about 50 states met in Germany to discuss how to increase arms supplies to Kyiv – but failed to agree on the provision of modern battle tanks.

“We see [the West] sticking to the dramatic delusion that Ukraine could have some success on the battlefield. It is a dramatic delusion … that will be a repeated cause for regret, there can be no doubt about that. And it leads to the deterioration of the conflict and creates an upward spiral of additional tension,” Mr Peskov said on Friday.

As the United States and several other Nato states pledged more artillery, air defence systems, armoured vehicles and other equipment to Kyiv, Mr Peskov claimed the delivery of more high-tech weapons would have a “negative” effect on Ukraine.


He said modern western tanks “also need maintenance, repair and so on, so they would add to Ukraine’s problems, while changing nothing in relation to the Russian side moving towards the achievement of its aims”.

Berlin said after Friday’s meeting of Ukraine’s allies at the Ramstein airbase that no consensus had been reached to provide German-made Leopard tanks to Kyiv; Britain has pledged to send about 14 of its Challenger tanks and Poland said before the meeting that it might transfer a similar number of Leopards without waiting for approval from Germany.

Long-range weapons supplied by Ukraine’s allies helped it expel Russia’s occupation force from much of the Kharkiv and Kherson regions in the late summer and autumn, but the Kremlin portrayed both those retreats as mere tactical withdrawals.

Ukraine has said its forces can reclaim all of its internationally recognised territory from Russia if allies provide it with the right weaponry, and has urged western capitals not to be cowed by threatening rhetoric from officials in Moscow, which Kyiv regards as a bluff.

“The defeat of a nuclear power in a conventional war could trigger the start of a nuclear war,” former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, who now serves as deputy chairman of the country’s security council, wrote on social media this week.

“Nuclear powers have never lost major conflicts on which their fate depends. That should be obvious to anyone. Even to a western politician who still has any scrap of intelligence.”

Heavy fighting continues in the Donbas areas of eastern Ukraine, where Russia claimed to have captured the town of Soledar last week and on Friday said it had taken the nearby village of Klishchiivka.

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin is a contributor to The Irish Times from central and eastern Europe