Ukraine gets new heavy tanks, Russia doubles down on nuke plans

Germany and Britain have delivered Western heavy tanks to Ukraine, officials said Monday, providing a key infusion of armored firepower that will aid Kyiv's battle against invading Russian troops.

The tanks -- long an item on Ukraine's military equipment wish list -- were promised to Kyiv earlier this year and have arrived in time for an expected spring offensive by Ukraine's forces.

As Ukraine gains conventional firepower, the Kremlin vowed to follow through on a plan announced by President Vladimir Putin to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in neighbouring Belarus, an initiative which has drawn widespread criticism.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told journalists on Monday that Berlin had provided "very modern" Leopard battle tanks to Kyiv, with the defence ministry later saying 18 were delivered.

"Our tanks have made it into the hands of our Ukrainian friends as promised and on time," German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said in a statement.

They are joined by Challenger tanks from Britain, a spokeswoman for the defence ministry in Kyiv said.

Ukraine's Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov had said earlier that he inspected a "new addition" to the country's forces -- Challenger tanks as well as Germany's Marder infantry fighting vehicles, plus Cougar armoured trucks and Stryker armoured personnel carriers from the United States.

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