Der Spiegel reports Germany set to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine



CNN

Germany will send highly sought-after Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine to help boost the country’s war, Der Spiegel reported on Tuesday evening, citing unnamed sources. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has decided to deploy the tanks following “months of debate,” according to German newspapers.

German parliament will debate the controversial issue on Wednesday morning. Deciding to send them will be a significant moment in the West’s support for Kyiv that follows days of intense pressure on Berlin from some NATO allies.

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

The news comes shortly after US officials revealed on Tuesday that the Biden administration was finalizing plans to send US-made tanks to Ukraine. Germany has indicated to the US last week that it will not send Leopard tanks unless the US also agrees to send its own M1 Abrams tanks.

Sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine will provide Kyiv’s military with modern and powerful combat vehicles in the face of Russia’s offensive. It would also be a blow to the Kremlin, which has seen a growing campaign to equip Ukraine’s military with modern combat systems as Russia’s civil war approaches a year.

Germany has resisted the sound of Western pressure to send some tanks to Ukraine, which the new German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has repeatedly called for most of the time and insists that the move will come with advantages and disadvantages for Berlin.

Warsaw raised the stakes on Tuesday when it requested permission to send its own Leopards, a move Berlin has said it will not block.

Many European countries also have some leopards, and Poland has led efforts to transport them to Ukraine even though Germany is not on board. But the decision of Scholz and Pistorius was considered very important because German-made tanks are often controlled by their export and import.

A Polish official told CNN Tuesday that to their knowledge, Berlin has not publicly informed Warsaw of the decision to allow the leopards to be sent to Ukraine.

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

Ukraine has been promised several modern military systems over the years amid a new surge in Western military aid. The US sealed a major military aid package for Ukraine worth up to $2.5 billion last week, including Stryker combat vehicles for the first time, while the United Kingdom and several EU countries have agreed to send tanks.

Pistorius, who became Germany’s defense minister on Thursday, saw his first day on the job marked by an effort by the coalition’s leaders to join the action by shipping Leopards to Ukraine. Germany on the other hand has promised that the US will also send its own tanks.

But frustration from some leaders spilled over into the open when the Berlin conference ended last Friday without an agreement to send the leopards, with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki accusing Germany of “delaying”. by not coming to a decision.

Boris Pistorius and Lloyd Austin met on Thursday.

The Leopard 2 will be a powerful warship for the Ukrainian battlefield.

Each machine gun has a 120mm Smoothbore gun, and a 7.62mm machine gun; it can reach a speed of 70 km per hour (44 mph), or 50 kmph when off-road, making navigation one of its characteristics. And there is protection all around against threats, including improvised explosive devices, mines or anti-tank fire, according to its German manufacturer, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly asked countries to stop arguing over whether to send tanks.

“We have spoken hundreds of times about the lack of weapons. We can’t just go on stimulus,” he said during a keynote speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week.

In an apparent reference to Germany’s resilience, Zelensky added: “There is a time when there is no need to back down. When people say – I’ll give you a tank if someone else does. ”

Meanwhile, Russia wanted to intimidate Germany into plotting. Asked during a regular press conference about Moscow’s reaction if Berlin agreed to send tanks, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said relations between the two countries were “already at a low level.” adding now “there are no important negotiations with Germany or with the rest of the EU. and NATO countries.”

“Of course, such a delivery does not bode well for the future of the relationship. They will leave the road in the near future,” said Peskov.

Previous military assistance, such as America’s HIMARS rocket system, has been important in helping Ukraine carry out successful countermeasures in recent months.

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