Germany has approved the deployment of Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine. Berlin will send some of its own Bundeswehr stocks, and will also approve exports of the hardware from third-party allies.
German government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit says Berlin intends to deliver 14 Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks from the Bundeswehr’s stocks to Ukraine.
Germany is also granting approval for other European countries to send tanks from their own stocks to Ukraine, Hebestreit added.
“The aim is to quickly assemble two tank battalions with Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine,” he said.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced his decision to the Cabinet earlier on Wednesday, having come under pressure from within his three-party coalition to grant the approval.
“This decision follows our well-known line of supporting Ukraine to the best of our ability,” said Scholz in a statement. “We are acting in a closely coordinated manner internationally.”
Training of Ukrainian forces on using the tanks will “begin quickly” in Germany, the statement said. It added that Germany’s assistance would also include logistics, ammunition, and maintenance for the battle tanks.
Berlin had already been expected to announce an official decision on the export of German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks to Kyiv. The German government had encouraged allies to start training Ukrainian forces in how to operate the tanks.
Urgency had grown ahead of expected spring offensives by both sides that could help prove decisive in the direction of the war.
In recent weeks, Western nations have promised to deliver more military machinery to support Ukraine against Russia’s invasion. Poland especially has been putting pressure on Germany to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine, but a US-led meeting in Germany last week failed to come to a conclusion.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned the delivery of the Leopard tanks would “bring nothing good to the future relationship” between Berlin and Moscow. “They will leave a lasting mark,” he said.
( Source DW)