Germany says no decision yet on tanks

  • Defence officials from about 50 countries are meeting in Germany to hammer out future military aid to Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ratcheted up his call for more arms as the meeting began, saying the war started by Russia “does not allow delays”.

    No decision reached on tanks, Polish defence minister says

    Poland’s defence minister says no decision was reached on supplying Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine at a meeting of Kyiv’s allies at Ramstein Air Base.

    But Mariusz Blaszczak said he remains optimistic that efforts to provide them would succeed.

    “Hope comes from the fact that … defence ministers of 15 countries met on the sidelines of today’s conference and we talked about this topic,” Blaszczak told reporters at the US base in Germany.

    “I am convinced that coalition building will end in success.”

    Turkey repeats offer to mediate between Moscow and Kyiv

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeated his offer to mediate between Russia and Ukraine in a phone call with Zelenskyy, the Turkish presidency says.

    Erdogan also offered Zelenskyy his condolences after a deadly helicopter crash near Kyiv on Wednesday. Zelenskyy’s interior minister, Denys Monastyrskyy, and other government officials were among the 14 people killed.

    The battle for Bakhmut

    For months, the city of Bakhmut has witnessed some of the most intense battles in the war between Russia and Ukraine.

    Last week, Russia’s military and the Wagner mercenary group said they had captured Soledar, a key town near Bakhmut. Ukraine denied the claims but said heavy fighting continued in the area.

    If Russia were to take Bakhmut, it would be Moscow’s most significant victory after months of humiliating setbacks.

    France increases military budget in light of Ukraine war

    French President Emmanuel Macron says 400 billion euros ($433bn) will be allocated to the military from 2024 to 2030, up from the 295 billion euros ($320bn) budgeted from 2019 to 2025.

    Macron said the 2019-2025 defence bill was meant to start building capacities back up after chronic underinvestment in the previous decades.

    He said the 2024-2030 budget reflects a “transformation” programme to adapt the military to the possibility of high-intensity conflicts, made more urgent since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

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