US, German defense chiefs discuss support for Ukraine

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has met with new German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius in Berlin. The talks come as Ukraine presses Germany to supply it with its main battle tanks.

Austin said, "We will continue to support Ukrainian people as they resist Russian aggression and defend their sovereign territory. I'd like to thank the German government for all that it has done to strengthen Ukraine self-defense, and your contribution of security assistance and training for Ukraine's defenders have been invaluable."

Pistorius said, "Putin's horrible war in Ukraine has given NATO the chance to show what it is, namely a supportive and stable alliance that has proven itself to be reactive and able to act and will continue to do so."

Britain decided this month to provide Ukraine with its main tank, the Challenger 2. It's equipped with a 120-millimeter gun, and has a top speed of 59 kilometers per hour.

Ukraine is also pleading for Germany's Leopard 2 tank. It's known as one of the world's most modern tanks. It carries a 120-millimeter gun, and can travel at 70 kilometers per hour.

The German government has been cautious about supplying the tank out of concern that it could escalate fighting.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday that delivering such weapons to Ukraine will mean taking the conflict to a new level. He said it will not bode well in terms of global and European security.

Russia's Security Council deputy chairman Dmitry Medvedev reacted to a planned meeting of Western nations in Germany on Friday to discuss military support for Ukraine.

Medvedev said that these countries want Russia to lose. He added that a nuclear power losing a conventional conflict could actually trigger a nuclear war.

The former Russian president said nuclear powers do not lose major conflicts that are crucial for their destiny.