German government approves delivery of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine | CNN


The German government will send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, it announced Wednesday, after weeks of diplomatic pressure to make the move.

The decision to send the tanks is a historic moment in the West’s support for Kyiv following days of intense pressure on Berlin from some of its NATO partners.

Foreign Minister Olaf Scholz told his cabinet his decision that Germany will further strengthen its military support for Ukraine, German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said. “The Federal Government has decided to make Leopard 2 main battle tanks available to the Ukrainian armed forces,” he said.

“This is the result of intensive consultations that took place with Germany’s closest European and international partners. This decision follows our well-known line of supporting Ukraine to Ukraine to the best of our ability.”

The goal is to assemble two tank battalions with Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine. In a first step, Germany will provide a company of 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks from Bundeswehr stocks, the government announced, with training of the Ukrainian crews to begin quickly in Germany. In addition to training, the package will also include logistics, ammunition, and systems maintenance.

Germany will also allow other countries to export the battle tank, it said on Wednesday. Poland formally requested Germany’s approval on Tuesday to transfer some of its German-built Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

Several European countries also own some leopards, and Poland had led an effort to re-export them to Ukraine even if Germany was not on board.

The Berlin announcement comes shortly after US officials revealed Tuesday that the Biden administration is finalizing plans to send US-made tanks to Ukraine. Germany had indicated to the US last week that it would not send its Leopard tanks unless the US also agreed to send its own M1 Abrams tanks.

The shipment of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine will provide Kyiv forces with a modern and powerful military vehicle ahead of a possible Russian spring offensive. It will also be a blow to the Kremlin, which has seen an escalating drive to equip Ukrainian troops with high-tech combat systems as Russia’s ground war nears the one-year mark.

Initially, Germany had resisted mounting Western pressure to send some of the tanks to Ukraine, and the new German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius repeatedly called for more time, insisting that the move would have trade-offs for Berlin.

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