When it comes to donating weapons, “if you hear it’s impossible, it means it will be possible in the future,” Oleksii Reznikov said.
Ukraine’s defense minister is confident that Kyiv will eventually obtain Western tanks and fighter planes to help push Russian forces out of his country, but thinks Washington will have to lead the way before allies will follow.
“I’m really optimistic that Abrams tanks are possible in the future and I am sure that fighter jets like F-16s, F-15s, or Gripen from Sweden will also be possible,” Oleksii Reznikov said in a wide-ranging interview about the state of the war and rebuilding the Ukrainian defense industry.
NATO countries have spent months debating whether to send modern, main battle tanks such as the Leopard from Germany or Abrams from the United States. German officials have so far declined, saying they won’t be the first to send NATO-grade heavy armor over concerns it could be seen as an escalation by Russian President Vladimir Putin. U.S. officials, meanwhile, contend that Abrams tanks are logistically complex fuel guzzlers that would be difficult to sustain on the battlefield in Ukraine.
Reznikov’s optimism persists despite all of the political and logistical challenges in convincing Western countries to supply more modern, NATO-grade weapons to Ukraine. He noted that many of the items once considered off-limits — drones, rockets and artillery — have eventually made it to Kyiv, ina frustrating game of red lines that are later crossed by world governments.
Soon after he was appointed defense minister last November, Reznikov came to Washington and asked for Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, but was told “no, it’s impossible,” he said. “I asked them why. The answer was because it’s forbidden by the law … and political issues. Then in January, a month before the invasion, we got our first package from Lithuania. It was the Stingers, and we got it with permission from the United States. So for me, it’s an example that if you hear it’s impossible, it means it will be possible in the future.”
The same process was repeated with 155mm howitzers and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, which have had a huge effect on the battlefield since arriving over the summer.