Germany approves long-awaited delivery of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine as US finalizes plans to send Abrams - CNN #ukraine #longawaited #delivery #tanks #plans #leopard #germany #abrams #battle #decision.
Germany confirmed it will send a long-demanded contingent of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine in a major sign of support for Kyiv that is expected to be matched by the United States.
The announcement by Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday, coupled with an anticipated decision by the US to send about 30 M-1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, marks a landmark moment that followed weeks of intense pressure on Berlin from some of its NATO allies.
Scholz told his Cabinet of his decision that Germany will further strengthen its military support for Ukraine, German government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit said. “The Federal Government has decided to make Leopard 2 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 the Ukraine to the best of our ability.”
The announcement came a day after CNN reported that the Biden administration is finalizing plans to send US tanks to Ukraine, a move that appeared to break the diplomatic logjam with Scholz’s government. German officials had openly stated that they would only send their Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine if the US sent Abrams tanks as well, despite US officials repeatedly stressing that the Abrams tanks are overly complex and difficult to maintain.
The dispute over whether the Germans would send Leopards to support Ukraine threatened to show some of the first cracks in the united Western response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But the announcement from Scholz and news that Washington is readying its own shipment appears to show the US and its allies are still working in lockstep when it comes to supporting President Volodymyr Zelensky and his nation’s fight against the Russians.
The Germans’ goal is to assemble two tank battalions with Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine, the government statement said. In a first step, Berlin will provide a company of 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks from Bundeswehr stocks, with the training of the Ukrainian crews to begin quickly in Germany. In addition to training, the package will also include logistics, ammunition and maintenance of the systems.
The German defense minister said the Leopard tanks could be operational in Ukraine in about three months. Boris Pistorius, speaking to reporters Wednesday, said training would come first, then the tanks would be sent east.
The German army has 320 Leopard 2 tanks in its possession but does not reveal how many would be battle ready, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defense previously told CNN.
Germany will also allow other countries to export the battle tank, it said. Poland on Tuesday formally asked for approval from Germany to transfer some of its German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
Several European countries also own some Leopards, and Poland had led an effort to re-export those to Ukraine even if Germany was not on board.
During his speech, the German leader said Germany together with the US and UK had sent the most weapons systems to Ukraine and insisted that his country would be at the forefront of support for Ukraine.
Sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine will provide Kyiv’s forces with a modern and powerful military vehicle ahead of a potential Russian spring offensive. It will also come as a blow to the Kremlin, which has seen a growing campaign to equip Ukrainian troops with high-tech fighting systems as Russia’s ground war nears the one-year mark.