Germany set to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, official announcement likely today: Reports

A Leopard 2 tank is pictured during a demonstration event held for the media by the German Bundeswehr in Munster near Hannover, Germany, on 28 September, 2011. AP File

New Delhi: After weeks of mounting pressure on Berlin to give Kyiv the heavier weapons to drive back invading Russian forces, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has agreed to supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 battle tanks, according to media reports.

According to unnamed government sources cited by German media on Tuesday, Berlin has also granted other countries, such as Poland and Finland, the licence to re-export the German-made tanks to Ukraine

According to German news website Der Spiegel, Germany would provide at least one company of Leopard 2A6 tanks out of the German army’s Bundeswehr’s stocks.

The official announcement would probably come today, the report added.

Countries that buy military weapons from Germany are generally required to obtain permission from Berlin before re-exporting those weapons to another country.

The Free Democratic Party, a member of Germany’s ruling political coalition, tweeted Tuesday night: “Germany sends Leopard-Panzer tanks to Ukraine!”

Ukraine and several of its allies have been urging Germany for weeks to allow the delivery of the Leopards, but a US-led meeting of Kyiv’s allies in Germany last week failed to yield a decision.

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius indicated on Tuesday that the moment of truth could be imminent, saying he had “expressly encouraged partner countries that have Leopard tanks that are ready for deployment to train Ukrainian forces on these tanks”.

“I expect a decision to be made shortly,” he added following talks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Berlin.

“We must provide heavier and more advanced systems to Ukraine, and we must do it faster,” Stoltenberg said, adding that he expected a decision by Berlin “soon”.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the delivery of the tanks would “bring nothing good to the future relationship” between Berlin and Moscow.

“They will leave a lasting mark,” he warned.

Under Germany’s war weapons control rules, countries using German-made armaments are required to seek Berlin’s permission if they wish to transfer them to a third party.

Poland, one of the loudest voices calling for permission to send Leopard tanks, said earlier this month it was ready to deliver 14 of them to Kyiv within the framework of an international coalition of countries.

Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak on Tuesday said the country had now sent in a formal request.

Confirming receipt, a German government spokesman said it would be examined “with necessary urgency”.

With inputs from agencies

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