Germany to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, permit provision from others

Berlin/Moscow, Jan 25 (EFE).- Germany will send a company of 14 Leopard 2 tanks from its arsenal to Ukraine and authorize others to transfer to deliver the German-made tanks, the government confirmed Wednesday after coming under growing pressure from Kyiv and European allies.


Olaf Scholz, Germany’s chancellor, said during a cabinet meeting that the package would also include the provision of training, logistics, ammunition and system maintenance, his spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said in a statement.


“This decision follows our well-known line of supporting Ukraine to the best of our ability. We are acting in a closely coordinated manner internationally,” the statement added.


Germany’s decision to authorize the supply of battle tanks to Ukrainian forces had been heavily petitioned by Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy and European allies such as Poland.


The announcement from the German government coincided with Zelenskyy’s 45th birthday and was acknowledged in a statement from Andrii Yermak, the head of the presidential office.


“The first tank step has been taken. Next — the ‘tank coalition.’ Leopards are needed a lot,” he said.


Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki thanked Scholz in a social media post.


“The decision to send Leopards to Ukraine is a big step towards stopping Russia. Together we are stronger,” he said.


Poland, which officially asked Berlin permission to provide tanks to Ukraine, has offered to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks from its stock of 247.


Rishi Sunak, the British prime minister, also welcomed Germany’s decision a week after he confirmed the United Kingdom would send 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine.


“The right decision by NATO Allies and friends to send main battle tanks to Ukraine. Alongside Challenger 2s, they will strengthen Ukraine’s defensive firepower.”


A number of European nations, including Spain, are studying the provision of Leopard 2 tanks while France has signaled the possibility of sending some of its Leclerc tanks.


The United States was also mulling the provision of M1 Abrams 1 battle tanks, according to media reports.

US Army M1 Abram tanks in Garkalne, Latvia, 08 February 2017. Reports state that 15 M1 Abrams tanks, six Bradley fighting vehicles and other military equipment has arrived in Garkalne. EPA-EFE FILE/VALDA KALNINA

RUSSIA’S REACTION


Russia, which has repeatedly warned Western allies against sending heavier weapons to support Ukraine, said the expected supply of US and German tanks was a plan doomed to fail.


“This is a clear overestimation of the potential this (the supply of tanks) will add to the Ukrainian armed forces,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday.


“I am certain that many specialists understand the absurdity of this idea as well. This plan is quite a losing scheme simply for technological reasons,” he added.


Peskov stressed that these tank deliveries that would be supplied to Ukraine by the United States and Germany would “burn” in Ukraine, just like other weapons provided to the war-ravaged country.


Earlier in the day, Moscow’s ambassador to the US said that Washington’s possible approval of M1 Abrams battle tanks for Ukraine would be a blatant provocation against Russia.


“If the United States decides to supply tanks, it will be impossible to justify such a step using arguments about ‘defensive weapons.’ This would be another blatant provocation against the Russian Federation,” Anatoly Antonov said in a statement posted on the embassy’s website.EFE


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