Sedan Chancellor Olaf Schölz (SPD) wants Leopard 2 main battle tanks for the Ukraine deliver. According to information from the Handelsblatt, the decision was made on Tuesday. As the “Spiegel” first reported, at least one company with the Leopard 2A6 version of the stocks of the armed forces be equipped.

Consequently, there are 14 vehicles. New Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said in the morning that he expected a quick decision from Germany on deliveries of Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine. This is expected “soon”, he said S.P.D.politicians in Berlin at a meeting with NATO-General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg.

As the AP news agency reported, the US government is also ready to provide Ukraine with Abrams-type main battle tanks. No further details were initially known. Chancellor Scholz had repeatedly stressed recently that he wanted to coordinate closely with the Western Allies on the issue of supplying main battle tanks.

Ukraine has been asking for Western-style main battle tanks to fight the Russian attackers for months. The front line in eastern Ukraine has hardly moved in weeks. With the tanks, Ukraine hopes to go back on the offensive and retake more territory. At the same time, a Russian offensive is feared for the spring.

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On Tuesday, Warsaw had previously submitted an official export request to the federal government for approval of the delivery of German-made Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine, and in doing so pressured Berlin to act. The Warsaw government had made it clear that, if necessary, it would hand over without German approval, and that it would start training Ukrainian soldiers in Leopard tanks.

Germany has a special role in the Leopard main battle tank

As a producing country, Germany plays a key role in the issue of Leopard delivery. If armaments are sold to other countries, end-use clauses are always included in the contracts. This stipulates that the federal government must agree to the transfer to third countries. A government spokesman said on Tuesday that they wanted to examine the Polish government’s request “with the necessary urgency.”

American battle tank M1 Abrams

According to AP, the United States is ready to make the model available to Ukraine.

(Photo: AP)

Chancellor Scholz has been criticized for weeks over the issue of Leopard renditions: he is accused of a wavering focus. There was also resentment in his own coalition. The government justified its action, among other things, with the risk of escalation and the necessary international coordination.

PDFDefense expert Marcus Faber called the decision to supply Leopard tanks to Ukraine the right one Tuesday night. “After eleven months, the training of the Ukrainian crews can finally start,” he said. “Consistent and rapid implementation is now crucial and at the same time the most important challenge for the new Minister of Defense. Ukraine badly needs the tanks to convince the invading troops to go home.”

According to Faber, all the details, such as the spare parts packages or the training of the Ukrainian soldiers in the Leopard, should be discussed on Wednesday in the Defense Committee of the Bundestag.

CDU leader Merz welcomes the decision

The leader of the union faction, Friedrich Merz, welcomed the decision of the federal government, but at the same time accused Chancellor Scholz of wavering. “The decision is correct,” the CDU chairman told the German Press Agency in Berlin on Tuesday evening.

Foreign Minister Baerbock, Chancellor Scholz, Defense Minister Pistorius (from left)

Ultimately, only the chancellor decides whether Germany will hand over the main battle tanks.


(Photo: dpa)

At the same time, Merz criticized the fact that if the Chancellor had announced such a decision together with the French President (Emmanuel Macron) in the Franco-German Council of Ministers on Sunday on the 60th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty in Paris, then he would have been a joint political leadership. So the image of an impulsive person who has hesitated too long remains.”

Media reported last week that Germany would only supply Leopard tanks to Ukraine if the US, in turn, sent Abrams main battle tanks. The federal government denied any such connection existed. However, if the Americans are now prepared to hand over Abrams tanks, a deal appears to have been reached in the end. Chancellor Scholz had emphasized that he only wanted to take qualitatively new steps in arms deliveries to Ukraine in close coordination with the allies, above all the US.

Leopard 2 main battle tank could help Ukraine in counteroffensives

The Leopard signifies a new quality in that it could also enable Ukraine, in combination with armored personnel carriers and artillery that will also be delivered, to launch counter-offensives or retake Russian-occupied areas. The German government had also hesitated because Russian President Vladimir Putin might use the delivery of battle tanks as an excuse for further escalation of the war.

We have 29 Leopard 2s almost ready. We could deliver them to Ukraine in March or April. Rheinmetall boss Armin Papperger

As FDP defense expert Faber said, the planned delivery of initially 14 copies should only be seen as a start. On the sidelines of the Handelsblatt conference on security and defense, Rheinmetall boss Armin Papperger offered support to the industry on Tuesday: “We have 29 Leopard 2s almost ready. We could deliver them to Ukraine in March or April,” he said. Also applies: “The decision rests with the Federal Chancellor.” Has already been taken.

It is now conceivable that the Bundeswehr will first deliver Leopard 2 from its own stock, which will then be replenished by the industry. Defense Minister Boris Pistorius tasked his department with taking stock last week. The goal is to provide Ukraine with versions of Leopard that are compatible with those of other countries.

In addition to Poland, Finland had also announced its willingness to supply leopards. Sweden and Spain could also participate in a coalition of the willing. Britain has promised 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine.

The Bundeswehr, which has around 320 Leopard tanks in five different versions, would be hurt if the vehicles were handed over and it would also affect the operational capability of the armed forces as a whole. If leopards were to be delivered to Ukraine, the country would also have to receive spare parts and ammunition, which in turn would be short of running vehicles left with the troops, army inspector Alfons Mais told the Handelsblatt conference. . “Rate pain is high, chronic pain then goes down the timeline.”

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