Germany Sends Leopard Tanks to Ukraine: Report | Russo-Ukrainian War News


German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has agreed to supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 battle tanks, according to media reports, giving Kyiv a heavier weapon that Ukraine says is needed to repel invading Russian forces. After weeks of mounting pressure on Berlin to do it.

German media reported Tuesday, citing unnamed government sources.

Countries purchasing military weapons from Germany generally need to obtain a permit from Berlin before re-exporting those weapons to other countries.

The Spiegel media outlet first reported this news that Germany would provide Leopard 2A6 tanks from at least one company that stocks the German army, the Bundeswehr.

There was no immediate comment from the German government.

Scholz held out for months against a growing chorus of people urging Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to send tanks to Kyiv, as well as NATO allies and members of Scholz’s coalition government.

Zelenskyy took a particularly hard line. The Berlin step cost Ukrainian lives, he said.

INTERACTIVE_UKRAINE_LEOPARD_2_TANKS_JAN22
(Al Jazeera)

Al Jazeera’s Dominic Kane, reporting from Berlin, said Leopard tanks could give Ukrainian forces an advantage over Russian forces.

“The thing to remember here is that the real value the Leopard 2 has is that it is heavier and faster than many of the tanks the Russians have in Ukraine,” he said in Berlin.

“Very many European Union countries also have some type of Leopard 2 tank. The principle here is clear. There are many countries in the EU as well as NATO European countries,” he said.

Germany is one of Ukraine’s largest military donors. However, there is skepticism about the value of sending tanks among the German public, who fear that sending tanks could draw Germany further into an escalating war in Eastern Europe.

Kane said the German government was prepared to provide armored vehicles and its own form of air and missile defense systems to Ukraine, but was reluctant to send the Leopard 2 battle tank, an offensive weapon.

“Germany has a historical legacy that has weighed on the shoulders of German chancellors since World War II.

potential game changer

Ukraine has been requesting a Western-designed battle tank for months to fight the invading Russian forces. The front lines in eastern Ukraine have hardly moved for weeks. With tanks, Ukraine hopes to reclaim more terrain occupied by Russia.

After media reports emerged Tuesday, officials in Kyiv were quick to cheer what they said was a potential game-changer on the battlefield in an 11-month-old war.

“Hundreds of tanks for our tank crews, the best tank crews in the world. This will be the real fist of democracy against the bog autocracy, ”the head of Zelenskyy’s office, Andriy Yermak, wrote in Telegram.

The German government plays a key role in the supply of the Leopard and retains the power to decide which countries can acquire advanced German tanks.

Scholz insisted on keeping pace with the US, which has yet to send a main tank to Ukraine.

The Wall Street Journal and other US media outlets reported on Tuesday that the administration of President Joe Biden is ready to change course and send Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

A US government source told Al Jazeera that an announcement would be made at the White House on Wednesday about the delivery of the tank.

An official said the tank would be purchased under an upcoming Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative package. Even so, it may take months or even years for the tank to be delivered.

Analysts say Russia is preparing for a major spring offensive in Ukraine that begins in March.

‘The leopard is set free’

Friedrich Merz, leader of Germany’s conservative Christian Democratic Party (CDU), welcomed the centre-left government’s move.

The CDU chairman told the DPA news agency that “the decision is correct”.

Green party members of the German Bundestag, the Bundestag, also welcomed the decision.

“The leopard is set free!” Bundestag Vice President Katrin Goring-Eckardt wrote on Twitter.

“Now I hope we can quickly help Ukraine fight against Russian aggression and free Ukraine and Europe.”

Of the 14 European countries that have Leopard tanks, only Finland and Poland have so far publicly stated their intention to deliver tanks to Ukraine.

No Western-designed heavy tank has ever been delivered to Ukraine for defensive combat against Russian aggressors. However, the British promised 14 Challenger tanks.

So far, Ukraine has received only Soviet-made tanks that were on the list of Eastern European NATO countries.

The number of leopards Berlin sent to Ukraine was not immediately clear. However, Der Spiegel reported that the decision involved at least one company of the Leopard 2A6 tank, one of the latest versions. Typically equipping a company means taking over 14 or more tanks.

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