In a video address to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Kyiv’s Western backers to pick up the “speed” of their decisions on arms deliveries, a veiled reference to Germany’s hesitancy to send heavy tanks to the country.
“The list of calls for decisive, efficient joint actions needs to be expanded with one more: the call for speed. The speed of decision-making,” Zelensky said.
Apparently criticizing the West’s initial reaction to the war, Zelensky said Russia “needed less than one second” to start the war and the world “needed days to react with first sanctions.”
The Ukrainian leader said the supply of “air defense systems must outpace Russia’s next missile attacks” and the supply of “Western tanks must outpace another invasion of Russian tanks.”
Zelensky’s address came after Britain pledged to send its main battle tank, the Challenger 2, and pressure was on Germany to send its Leopard 2 tanks. Other countries that possess the Leopard 2 tanks are willing to send them to Kyiv, including Poland and Finland, but the deliveries still need to be signed off by Berlin.
The issue of tank deliveries is expected to be a major topic of discussion this week during NATO meetings in Brussels and a gathering of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, which is chaired by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
While entirely reliant on the US and its allies for his war effort, Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials are not afraid to criticize their Western backers. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said earlier this month that “no one has done enough” to support Ukraine.
In his WEF address, Zelensky accused some Western countries of taking for granted the “values” that Ukraine is fighting for. “We routinely defend values which some of the allies take for granted – as a fact of life,” he said.