US, German defense chiefs discussing military supplies for Ukraine

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his German counterpart Boris Pistorius are discussing military aid for Ukraine on Thursday. All eyes are on whether Germany will decide to provide its mainstay battle tanks to support Ukrainian forces.

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin visited an arms plant in the second largest city of St. Petersburg on Wednesday. In a pep talk to workers, Putin urged them to work hard to produce more weapons.

Against this backdrop, US Defense Secretary Austin is visiting Berlin for talks with his German counterpart.

One key issue is whether Germany will decide to supply its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, a move that could potentially alter the course of fighting. It would also follow a pledge by Britain to provide Ukraine with its Challenger 2 tanks.

Ukraine and others are calling for the tanks to be deployed. But Germany has shown more caution, due to domestic concerns that the supply of highly potent battle tanks would only lead to more intense fighting.

Germany's upcoming decision is drawing great attention, ahead of a gathering of US and European nations in western Germany on Friday to further discuss military aid for Ukraine.