Der Spiegel reports that Germany is ready to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine

Der Spiegel reports that Germany is ready to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine

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Germany is ready to send its wanted Leopard 2 tanks in Ukraine to help bolster the country’s military efforts, Der Spiegel reported Tuesday night, citing unnamed sources. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has decided to deliver the battle tanks after “months of debate”, according to an exclusive report by the German news bulletin.

The German parliament is due to debate the contentious issue on Wednesday morning. The decision to send them would be a major milestone in Western support for Kyiv, which follows days of intense pressure on Berlin from some of its NATO partners.

CNN reached out to the German government for comment Tuesday night, but did not receive a response.

The report comes shortly after United States officials revealed on Tuesday that the Biden administration was finalizing plans to send USA made tanks to Ukraine. Germany indicated to the US last week that it would not send its Leopard tanks unless the US also agreed to send its own M1 Abrams tanks.

The deployment of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine will provide Kyiv’s forces with a modern and powerful military machine ahead of a potential Russian spring offensive. It would also be a blow to the growing Kremlin campaign to equip Ukrainian troops with high-tech combat systems as Russia’s ground war approaches the one-year mark.

Germany resisted mounting Western pressure to send some of the tanks to Ukraine, with new German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius repeatedly calling for more time and insisting the move would come with pros and cons for Berlin.

Warsaw raised the stakes on Tuesday when it formally requested permission to send its own Leopards, a move Berlin had previously said it would not block.

Several European countries also own some Leopards, and Poland led the effort to re-export those to Ukraine, even if Germany wasn’t on board. But the decision by Scholz and Pistorius is considered decisive because the tanks are German-made and Germany normally controls their export and re-export.

A Polish official told CNN on Tuesday that, as far as they knew, Berlin had not yet formally notified Warsaw of the decision to allow Leopards to be sent to Ukraine.

The German army has 320 Leopard tanks, but did not disclose how many of them will be combat-ready, a Defense Ministry spokesman told CNN.

Several high-tech combat systems have been promised to Ukraine since the start of the year amid a renewed wave of Western military aid. The US finalized a massive military aid package for Ukraine totaling about $2.5 billion worth of weapons last week, including Stryker combat vehicles for the first time, while the UK and a number of EU countries agreed to send tanks.

Pistorius, who became Germany’s defense minister on Thursday, has seen his first days in office dominated by efforts by key allies to join the trend by supplying Leopards to Ukraine. Germany, for its part, tried to secure guarantees that the US would also send its own tanks.

But the frustration of some leaders was revealed after the Berlin summit ended last Friday without a deal to send the Leopards, with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki accusing Germany of “wasting time” by failing to reach a decision.

The Leopard 2 tank would be a powerful fighting machine for the battlefields of Ukraine.

Each tank contains a 120 mm smoothbore gun and a 7.62 mm machine gun; it can reach speeds of 70 km/h (44 mph) or 50 km/h when off-road, making maneuverability one of its main characteristics. And it has comprehensive threat protection, including IEDs, mines or anti-tank fire, according to German manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly called on the countries to stop fighting over whether to send the tanks.

“We have talked hundreds of times about the lack of weapons. We cannot continue on motivation alone,” he said during a virtual appearance at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos last week.

In an apparent swipe at Germany’s delay, Zelensky added: “There are times when you don’t need to hesitate. When people say – I’ll give you tanks if someone else does.”

Meanwhile, Russia was trying to threaten Germany as it deliberated. Asked at a regular press briefing about Moscow’s reaction to whether Berlin had approved the tank deployment, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said relations between the two countries were “already at a fairly low point,” adding that at the moment “there is no substantial dialogue with Germany or with other EU countries’. and the NATO countries”.

“Of course, such deliveries do not bode well for the future of relations. They will leave an immediate mark,” said Peskov.

Previous military aid, such as the US HIMARS missile system, has been vital in helping Ukraine mount a series of successful counteroffensives in recent months.

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