Germany confirms it will provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks

The Nation  |  Jan 26, 2023

 Germany confirms it will provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks
BERLIN-After weeks of reluctance, Germany has agreed to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, in what Kyiv hopes will be a game-changer on the battlefield.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced the decision to send 14 tanks - and allow other countries to send theirs too - at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. US President Joe Biden’s administration is also expected to announce plans to send at least 30 M1 Abrams tanks. 

A Kremlin spokesman earlier said the tanks would “burn like all the rest”. Dmitry Peskov said there was an overestimation of the potential the tanks would bring to the Ukrainian army, and called the move a “failed plan”. But Ukrainian officials insist they are urgently in need of heavier weapons, and say sufficient battle tanks could help Kyiv’s forces seize back territory from the Russians. 

A German government spokesperson said the decision to supply the tanks “follows our well-known line of supporting Ukraine to the best of our ability”.

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Germany also permitted other countries to send their Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine - which was restricted until now under export regulations.  The US and Germany had resisted internal and external pressure to send their tanks to Ukraine for some time. Washington cited the extensive training and maintenance required for the high-tech Abrams.

Germans endured months of political debate about concerns that sending tanks would escalate the conflict and make Nato a direct party to the war with Russia. US media is reporting that an announcement regarding Abrams shipments to Ukraine could come as soon as Wednesday, with unnamed officials cited as saying at least 30 could be sent.  However the timing remains unclear, and it could take many months for the US combat vehicles to reach the battlefront.  German officials had reportedly been insisting they would only agree to the transfer of Leopard 2s to Ukraine if the US also sent M1 Abrams.  “If the Germans continue to say we will only send or release Leopards on the conditions that Americans send Abrams, we should send Abrams,” Democratic Senator Chris Coons, a Biden ally, told Politico on Tuesday. 

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