(Reuters) - The Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania made a joint call to Germany on Saturday to step up its leadership and send its main battle tanks to Ukraine, putting further pressure on Berlin to move faster on aiding Kyiv in its war against Russia.
"We, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania Foreign Ministers, call on Germany to provide Leopard tanks to Ukraine now," Estonia's Foreign Minister said on Twitter.
"This is needed to stop Russian aggression, help Ukraine and restore peace in Europe quickly. Germany as the leading European power has special responsibility in this regard."
The statement came a day after Germany and Western allies reached no decision on whether Berlin would agree to send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine or permit other countries that have them to do so.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February last year raised concerns in the small Baltic states - all NATO members that restored their independence after decades of Soviet rule in 1991 - that they could also come under an attack from Moscow.
Russia in recent days has increased shelling of Ukraine's eastern regions over outside the main front line in Donbas, with Russia's defence ministry saying on Saturday its offensive in the Zaporizhzhia region had put its army's units in more advantageous positions.
Germany's new Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said on Saturday he plans to visit Ukraine "quickly," adding that Berlin is in "close dialogue" on the issue of tanks with the United States and other international partners.
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)