February 3, 2023

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Scholz gives go-ahead to supply Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine

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Germany is to supply 14 Leopard-2 tanks to Ukraine in a significant ramping up of western military aid to Kyiv.

Olaf Scholz announced the move at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, describing it as the result of “intensive consultations that have taken place between Germany and its closest European and international partners”.

Germany will aim to put together two tank battalions of the German-made Leopard-2 tanks. As a first step, Berlin will provide a company with 14 Leopard 2-A6 tanks, from stocks held by the Bundeswehr, the German army.

“This decision follows our well-known line of making our best efforts to support Ukraine,” Scholz said. “In this we are acting in close co-ordination with our international [partners].”

The move follows intense pressure from Kyiv and EU countries including Poland and the Baltic states. It also accompanies a shift in Washington, which was at first sceptical of the need to send Abrams tanks because of logistical and training challenges. The Biden administration is now preparing to announce that it would deliver M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, according to people familiar with the matter.

Scholz had hesitated to provide Ukraine with heavy armoured vehicles, fearing that it would increase the risk of a direct confrontation between Russia and Nato and had previously insisted that Germany would not “go it alone.”

Germany will give export approval to all the countries that want to send their Leopard-2s to Ukraine. As manufacturer of the tanks, Berlin has a say over their re-sale and export. Germany will also start training Ukrainian soldiers to use the weapons system. The package will include logistics, ammunition and maintenance of the systems, according to Berlin.

The front line in the war has barely budged in recent weeks and Kyiv has argued western tanks would help it to regain the initiative and reconquer occupied territory. It also says it needs tanks to deter a renewed Russian offensive that is expected in early…



2023-01-25 06:10:29

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