Germany plans to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, a key breakthrough move in the West’s efforts to intensify its fight against Russian forces in Kyiv.
A person familiar with the matter confirmed that Germany would send tanks, but gave no details about the number and type of tanks under consideration.
German news outlet Spiegel Online, which first reported the move, said Berlin would send at least a squadron of Leopard 2A6s, typically around 14 tanks. They were said to come from Bundeswehr stocks, the German army.
Berlin will also give the green light Warsaw request Send some of the Polish leopards to Ukraine. A senior Polish official confirmed the decision to allow Leopard 2 exports to Ukraine.
The decision to send tanks represents an important policy shift for Germany.Olaf Scholz hesitated for a long time Provided Ukraine with heavy armor, He fears the increased risk of a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO.
He also stressed that Germany would. never go alone On tanks, he insisted that he would act in step with his allies, primarily the United States.
But the demand for tanks could no longer be ignored. The war front has been largely unshaken in recent weeks, with Kyiv saying Western tanks will help regain the initiative and reconquer occupied territories. They are also needed to deter new Russian attacks.
Senior Green MP Anton Hoffreiter, who has often accused Mr Scholz of being overly cautious about arms supplies to Ukraine, welcomed the prime minister’s move. “Decisions are made late, but never too late,” he said. “This will enable Ukraine to effectively defend itself against Russian aggression and regain control of its territory.”
Relations between Berlin and Washington were strained last week after many news outlets reported that Scholz said Germany would not send tanks to Ukraine unless the US did the same. German authorities later denied any such “link”.
But recent developments suggest that after days of intense talks, the United States and Germany have agreed to act jointly on tanks. This mirrors a similar move in early January when the two countries jointly announced that they would provide infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine – US’s Bradley and Germany’s Marder.
Two US officials said Tuesday that Washington is actively considering sending Abrams tanks to Ukraine.
The Biden administration is facing mounting pressure from Democrats and Republicans in the Capitol, calling for Abrams to be dispatched to break German resistance to sending its own tanks. The White House and Pentagon declined to comment.
By insisting that the US and Germany act together, “the chancellor’s office ensured that the risks were shared,” said Carlo Masala, a political scientist at Munich’s Bundeswehr University. “Any Russian counter-attack would directly affect the American people themselves, so the NATO reaction to it would involve the American people.”
Pressure on Scholze to reconsider his position on tanks intensifying Over the past few weeks, it peaked last Friday after a meeting of Western defense officials at Ramstein US Air Base in West Germany called to ramp up military aid.
Germany was expected to announce at Ramstein that it would send tanks to Kyiv, or at least allow others to do so. Scholz has the authority to grant or withhold permits to his 13 European countries to re-export using the Leopard 2. However, the conference failed to provide a breakthrough.
Scholz then endured a barrage of criticism from Germany’s allies, particularly in Eastern Europe and the Baltics, prompting him to assume leadership. Poland, which wants to form a coalition of countries ready to share Leopard inventories with Ukraine, has been particularly vocal on the issue of sending heavy armor.
Pressure also came from Scholz’s coalition partners, the Greens and liberals, who publicly criticized him for not giving the go-ahead for tanks owned by the Bundeswehr and German allies.
But on Tuesday night there was relief in the news of the tank decision, some said it might hasten the end of the war. We’ll be ready,” Hoffreiter said. “Only then will a lasting peace be possible.”
Shortly before news of Scholz’s move against Leopard first broke, Russia warned of unspecified consequences if the West provided tanks to Ukraine. “Relations are already quite faltering and there are no signs of substantial dialogue between Germany and other EU member states and NATO,” Peskov said.
“These supplies don’t mean anything good for the future of the relationship. They will definitely leave an inescapable mark,” he added.
Additional reporting by Barbara Erling from Warsaw and Max Seddon from Riga