German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has agreed to supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks, according to media reports, claiming they are needed to repel invading Russian forces. After weeks of pressure on Berlin to give the weapons to Kyiv.
The news that Berlin will provide tanks to Kyiv comes after US officials told the media that Washington was finally ready to begin the process of sending dozens of M1 Abrams tanks to the front lines in Ukraine. rice field.
A US government source told Al Jazeera that there will be an announcement at the White House on Wednesday regarding the Abrams offer. A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that the U.S. commitment could total around 30 Abrams over the next few months.
Berlin has also granted licenses to other countries, such as Poland and Finland, to re-export stockpiles of German tanks to Ukraine, German media reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed government sources. Countries buying military weapons from Germany usually need a permit from Berlin before re-exporting those weapons to another country.
The Spiegel media outlet, which first broke the news that Scholz had agreed to provide tanks to Ukraine, said Germany would provide at least one company of Leopard 2A6 tanks from Bundeswehr stockpiles. Equipping a company usually means delivering 14 or more tanks.
There was no official comment from the German government.
The Kremlin says supplying Ukraine with tanks will not change the problem and the West will regret its “delusion” that Kyiv can win the battlefield against Russia.
Russia’s ambassador to the US said Washington’s possible transfer of Abrams tanks to Kyiv would be “another blatant provocation” against Moscow.
“It is clear that Washington is deliberately trying to inflict a strategic defeat on us,” Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said in a statement posted on the embassy’s messaging app Telegram on Wednesday.
“If the United States decides to supply tanks, justifying such measures with arguments about ‘defensive weapons’ will definitely not work. This would be a blatant provocation to the Russian Federation,” it said. Stated.
Until now, the United States has resisted providing Ukraine with M1 Abrams tanks, citing the large, complex maintenance and logistical challenges associated with high-tech weapons. Washington believed it would be more productive to send German leopards since many allies had German leopards in their possession and the Ukrainian army would require less training than the more complex Abrams.
By agreeing to send Abrams tanks, the US government appears to be responding to the German Chancellor’s demand that Germany need to align itself with Washington.
Scholz had been holding out for months against a large chorus of people urging him to send tanks to Kyiv, including not only Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but also NATO allies and members of Scholz’s coalition.
Zelensky took a particularly tough stance, saying that Berlin’s limp was costing Ukrainian lives.
Al Jazeera’s Dominic Kane, reporting from Berlin, said Leopard tanks could provide Ukrainian forces with an edge over Russian forces.
“The thing to remember here is that the real value of the main battle tank Leopard 2 is that it is heavier and faster than many of the tanks the Russian army has in Ukraine,” he said. rice field.
“It is also true that so many different European Union countries have Leopard 2 tanks in specific formats. Told.
Germany is one of Ukraine’s largest military donors. However, there is skepticism about the value of sending tanks among a wide swath of the German public, who fear it will draw Germany deeper into the escalating war in Eastern Europe.
Kane said the German government was ready to provide Ukraine with an armored personnel carrier and its own form of anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense system, but was reluctant to send the offensive weapon, the Leopard 2 tank. rice field.
“Germany has a historical legacy that has fallen heavily on the shoulders of the German Chancellor since World War II in that it has been unwilling to go head-to-head with Russia,” he said.
potential game changer
Ukraine has been demanding Western-designed tanks for months to fight invading Russian forces. The front line in eastern Ukraine has barely moved for weeks. With tanks, Ukraine hopes to reclaim more terrain that Russia has seized.
Analysts also say Russia is preparing a major offensive in the spring. This will start in March in Ukraine.
After media reports emerged about Germany’s decision on Tuesday, officials in Kyiv immediately confirmed what they said was a potential game-changer on the battlefield in the war 11 months ago. welcomed to
“Hundreds of tanks for our tank crew, the best tank crew in the world. One Andriy Yermak wrote on Telegram. Friedrich Merz, leader of Germany’s conservative Christian Democratic Party (CDU), welcomed the move by the centre-left government.
“The decision is correct,” the CDU chairman told DPA news agency.
Green MPs in the German Bundestag also welcomed the decision.
“The leopard has been released!” Katrin Goring-Eckhardt, Vice Speaker of Parliament, wrote on Twitter.
“We hope that we can quickly assist Ukraine in countering Russian aggression and fighting for the freedom of Ukraine and Europe.”
Heavy tanks designed by the West to combat Russian forces have not yet been delivered to Ukraine. So far, Ukraine has received only Soviet-made tanks that were in stocks of NATO countries in Eastern Europe.
Of the 14 European states with Leopard tanks, only Finland and Poland have so far publicly expressed their intention to hand them over to Ukraine. Britain promised her 14 Challenger tanks.