The German government has declared the Chancellor Olaf Scholz accepted Lambrecht’s resignation and will soon appoint a new defense minister to replace him.
His departure comes just three days before he is due to host his US counterpart, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and four days before allies meet at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to coordinate military support for Kyiv. .
Lambrecht has come under fire in recent days for his upbeat New Year’s Eve message filmed in front of fireworks, in which he spoke of how lucky he was to meet “great and interesting people” in the wake of the war in Ukraine.
Besides the Lambrecht problem, Germany was also concerned about its reluctance to provide tanks or allow its allies to send them. This weekend will be the culmination of diplomacy to ensure additional supplies to Ukraine.
France, the United States and Germany all pledged armored fighting vehicles this month, but the West has so far refrained from offering main battle tanks. Britain broke that taboo over the weekend by offering a squadron of Challengers.
Moscow accuses the West of aggravating the conflict, although Russia also says the supply of tanks will not affect the course of the war. The British tank “will be burned like the others,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.
NATO allies in Eastern and Central Europe mainly rely on German-made Leopard tanks, which are considered the most suitable Western tanks to form the core of Ukraine’s new armored force. Poland and Finland said last week they wanted to send the Leopards but needed permission from Berlin.
Ukrainian forces recaptured most of the territory in the second half of 2022. But the front has been largely frozen over the past two months, despite heavy fighting in which both sides are believed to have suffered heavy casualties.
Kyiv said new Western tanks would break the stalemate, giving its troops the chance to penetrate Russian lines.
Moscow says it captured the eastern salt mining town of Soledar last week, in what will be its biggest battlefield success since last August. Kyiv said they were still in the city and fighting continued.
Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar on the Telegram messaging app, the fighting continues. “Everything else is unverified information.”
Ukraine’s western allies say the Battle of Soledar, with a pre-war population of nearly 10,000, is unlikely to have much wider impact except to the extent that heavy casualties there- down could drain both sides of the manpower needed for the next decisive battle.
Ukraine has warned that Moscow may be planning new attacks in the coming weeks, including from close ally Belarus, which has allowed Russia to use its territory as a staging ground but has until ‘now refused to join the war directly.
Russia and Belarus began joint military flight exercises on Monday. Minsk said the drills were defensive in nature and would not go into war.
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