Ukraine 'paying in lives' as tank debate drags on

STORY: Ukraine says it's paying with lives as a debate over tanks drags on.

Western allies pledged billions of dollars in new weapons for Kyiv on Thursday (January 19).

But the question of whether they would also send German-made tanks is still unanswered.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy delivered a stark reminder to allies from Kyiv.

“To oppose thousands of tanks of the Russian Federation, bravery of our servicemen and motivation of Ukrainian people is not enough. We need weapons. We either need a lot of artillery systems or adequate number of tanks.”

At the center of the debate are Leopard battle tanks whose transfer to Ukraine requires Germany's approval.

Kyiv says it needs heavy tanks to fend off Russian assaults and recapture occupied land and Nato's military chief on Thursday emphasized its importance.

"...if you have a tank on the other side, opposing you, you'd better have a tank. So I think in terms of matching what the enemy has it is important for the Ukrainians and in terms of their ambition to regain their own territory -- what was taken from the Russians -- a tank is an important weapon system."

A German government source said Berlin would lift objections if Washington sent tanks as well.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been reluctant to send weapons that could be seen as provoking Moscow.

Military analyst Gustav Gressel says Germany's main fear is nuclear war.

“The chancellery is enormously afraid of nuclear war and they’re perceived there they are the prime target for that. I don’t know how this strange perception came about. It’s sometimes – I have a bit of an impression that Scholz has lost sight of the fact that Germany is actually a part of the NATO alliance. He’s mentally not West-bound.”

Former Russian President and deputy chairman of President Vladimir Putin’s security council Dmitry Medvedev warned NATO on Thursday that a defeat of Russia could trigger such an event.

But the explicit recognition that Russia might lose on the battlefield marked a rare moment of public doubt from a prominent member of Putin’s inner circle.

The debate over the Leopard battle tanks will continue in Berlin - where western allies will be meeting on Friday (January 20).

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with German officials there on Thursday ahead of the meeting.

There was no word on whether Germany and its allies had resolved their concerns.