Defense leaders meet amid dissent over tanks for Ukraine

ASSOCIATED PRESS Defense leaders gathered at Ramstein Air Base in Germany heard an impassioned plea for more aid Friday from Ukrainian President Volodymyr

Zelenskyy as they struggled to resolve ongoing dissent over who will provide battle tanks and other military aid to his embattled country. “This is a crucial moment. Russia

is regrouping, recruiting and trying to re-equip,” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned as the meeting opened. Zelenskyy, speaking live via video link, told the

gathering that “terror does not allow for discussion.” He said “the war started by Russia does not allow delays.” Calling it a decisive moment for Ukraine and a “decisive

decade for the world,” Austin said the group’s presence in Germany signaled their unity and commitment to continue supporting Ukraine. “We need to keep up our momentum and

our resolve. We need to dig even deeper,” Austin told the gathering of as many as 50 defense leaders who were attending in person and by video. A Kremlin spokesman said the

deployment of Western tanks would trigger “unambiguously negative” consequences. “All these tanks will require both maintenance and repairs, and so on, so (sending them)

will add to Ukraine’s problems, but will not change anything with regard to the Russian side achieving its goals,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a media briefing

Friday. Austin and U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were expected to discuss the latest massive package of aid the U.S. is sending, which

totals $2.5 billion and includes Stryker armored vehicles for the first time.