As Ukraine anticipates a spring offensive, British Challenger, American Stryker and Cougar, and German Marder tanks have arrived in the country. Meanwhile, Russia has confirmed its intention to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, a neighboring ally of Ukraine and the European Union, despite strong protests from Western nations.

On Monday, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiï Reznikov announced on Facebook that British Challengers, American Strykers and Cougars, and German Marders have joined Ukrainian units. He also shared a photo of the vehicles but did not specify the date of their arrival. Iryna Zolotar, a spokeswoman for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, confirmed to AFP that Challenger tanks are already in Ukraine but did not disclose the exact number.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced on Monday that Berlin has provided Kiev with state-of-the-art Leopard combat tanks. The German Defense Ministry later stated that 18 tanks have been delivered.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius expressed confidence in a statement that the tanks would make a difference on the battlefield. Western countries have recognized Ukraine’s right to defend itself but are hesitant to supply weapons that could escalate the conflict by enabling Ukraine to strike Russia.

Slovakia recently delivered four MiG-29s to Ukraine, and Poland has pledged to do the same. In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated on Monday that Russia will not change its plan to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, despite Western criticism.

The United States reaffirmed that it has no reason to believe Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons, but condemned Russia’s announcement. State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel described the rhetoric as “irresponsible” and noted that no other country had mentioned the possibility of using nuclear weapons in the conflict.

On the ground, Russian missiles hit the city of Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine on Monday, killing two people in their car, injuring over 30 others, and destroying buildings, according to local police and authorities.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director Rafael Grossi on Monday. Grossi is expected to visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, currently occupied by Russian forces, later this week. Zelensky warned Grossi that any initiative to restore nuclear safety and security would fail without the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops and personnel from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and adjacent territories.