"Time is of the essence" in getting Western tanks into Ukraine before Russia launches an anticipated spring offensive, a top Ukrainian diplomat told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Friday.
"We need these tanks now," said Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States.
The tanks are "very much needed now, so that our brave defenders can be protected. So we can maneuver, we can fire and actually we can go back on the counteroffensive and we can preempt this future attacks Russia is actually planning to expand during the spring," Markarova said.
Germany has so far failed to reach an agreement with its key Western allies on sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, despite growing pressure to step up its military aid and pleas from Kyiv for more weapons.
Germany has denied claims it is dragging its feet and has called on the US to send its own tanks to Ukraine.
Blitzer asked Markarova about the US government's argument that its M1 Abrams tanks would be more difficult to operate and maintain — and therefore less helpful — than the German Leopards.
"Of course we are consulting with our partners, 'What will be the most effective one? What can we get in large numbers, maintain on the battlefield, repair if necessary?'" the ambassador said.
"It looks like the Leopard is something that a number of allies are ready to discuss with us, have in quantity and would be a little bit easier to maintain and repair," Markarova said. "But again, as we discussed ... there is no discussion that is not being held at the moment."
Despite concerns over the delivery of Western tanks, the ambassador opened her discussion with Blitzer by thanking the US for its latest aid package and other allies for all of their military support.