Western countries will deliver 321 tanks to Ukraine, according to Ukraine’s ambassador to France.
“As of today, numerous countries have officially confirmed their agreement to deliver 321 heavy tanks to Ukraine,” Vadym Omelchenko said in an interview with French TV station and CNN affiliate BFM television on Friday.
He did not specify which countries would provide the tanks or provide a breakdown of which models.
The figure from Omelchenko comes after the US this week pledged to provide 31 M1 Abrams tanks and Germany agreed to send 14 Leopard 2 A6s. Previously the United Kingdom has pledged 14 Challenger 2 tanks, while Poland has asked for approval from Germany to transfer some of its own German-made Leopard 2s to Ukraine.
Echoing the words of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has urged the West to provide what some experts see as game-changing military hardware, Omelchenko said that Ukraine needed assistance “as fast as possible”.
“If it had to wait until the month of August or September, it would be too late,” he said.
Delivery dates will vary depending on the type of tank and the country of origin, the ambassador said, and the timing would be adjusted during the next consultations between Ukraine and Western countries, he said.
Ukrainians forces have warned they are in a race against time. The country fears that a second Russian offensive may begin within two months and is bracing for the coming weeks.
Previous military aid, like the American HIMARS rocket system, has been vital in helping Ukraine disrupt Russian advances and make a series of successful counter-offensives in recent months.
But tanks represent the most powerful direct offensive weapon provided to Ukraine so far, military experts said.
This week, several Western nations led by Germany and the United States said they would send contingents of tanks to Ukraine.
US President Joe Biden said he would be providing 31 M1 Abrams tanks to “enhance Ukraine’s capacity to defend its territory and achieve its strategic objectives” in both the near and long terms.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in parliament on Wednesday said that his government would send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, wrapping up months of deliberation and several days of tense negotiations with NATO partners.
“This is the result of intensive consultations that took place with Germany’s closest European and international partners,” a German government statement read.
Ukraine hopes that Berlin’s announcement will encourage other European nations who own Leopards to re-export some of their vehicles.
Poland on Tuesday formally asked for approval from Germany to transfer some of its German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
Military experts previously told CNN that the extra tanks could make a difference in the war. But some analysts said that the new tanks wouldn’t be the instant game-changer that some would expect.
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