Ukraine expresses gratitude to Germany over solidarity, demands more battle tanks
Ukraine has thanked Germany for its unwavering support in the face of the Russian military campaign, urging Berlin to provide more military assistance, especially battle tanks.
Speaking during a visit to Germany on Sunday, Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmygal expressed gratitude towards Berlin "for solidarity with Ukrainians and support," AFP reported.
The Ukrainian official also thanked Germany for increasing its weapon exports to Kiev over the past months. He said the German armaments, including tank howitzer 2000 and Mittleres Artillerieraketensystem (MARS) rocket launchers, were all "working well on the battlefield."
Russia has specified the aim of the operation as “demilitarization” of the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas, which is made up of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics, among other things.
Back in 2014, the republics broke away from Ukraine, refusing to recognize a Western-backed Ukrainian government there that had overthrown a democratically-elected Russia-friendly administration.
Announcing the operation, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the mission was aimed at “defending people who for eight years are suffering persecution and genocide by the Kiev regime.”
The Ukrainian premier said he had "discussed the military situation, strengthening [of the West's] sanctions [against Moscow over the operation], and the need to provide weapons for Ukraine" during a meeting with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Shmygal said he "hopes that Germany will become one of the leaders in the process of developing Ukrainian air defense." Berlin, he added, was expected to provide Kiev with its Infra-Red Imaging System Tail (IRIS-T) in the autumn.
Relations between the two sides became strained in the early stages of the military conflict over Steinmeier's policy of detente towards Russia, which prevented Berlin from catching up with the rest of the West in siding with Kiev against Moscow.