Germany is set to send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, according to a report by the German news outlet Der Spiegel on Tuesday evening. The decision follows “months of debate”, according to the report, and will help bolster the country’s war effort against Russia.
Meanwhile, the US is also expected to make an announcement Wednesday on sending its heavy tanks to Ukraine.
The matter will be up for debate in the German parliament Wednesday morning. If an official decision is reached, it will mark a landmark moment in the West’s support for Kyiv. Notably, Berlin has been under pressure from several of its NATO supporters over the matter.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who turned 45 on Wednesday, earlier pressed allies to move forward with providing his forces with more than five to 15 modern tanks.
“Discussions must be concluded with decisions,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address. “Decisions on real strengthening of our defence against terrorists. Allies have the required number of tanks.”
While German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has reportedly decided to send the Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, he has also allowed other countries, such as Poland, to do the same.
Meanwhile, just days after arguing against granting Kyiv’s requests, Washington looks set to start a process to send M1 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine, two US officials told Reuters on Tuesday. A third official said the US could send a total of about 30 tanks in the coming months.
Germany had earlier indicated that it won’t send its Leopard tanks unless the US also agrees to send its own M1 Abrams tanks.
Spiegel magazine reported that Germany was planning to supply at least one company of Leopard 2 A6 tanks, usually comprising 14 tanks. Other allies, in Scandinavia for example, will also follow Germany in supplying their Leopard tanks to Kyiv, the magazine reported.
Even though neither Berlin, nor Washington have confirmed the development, officials in Ukraine hailed the decision.
“A few hundred tanks for our tank crews …. This is what is going to become a real punching fist of democracy,” Andriy Yermak, the head of Zelensky’s administration, wrote on Telegram.
(With inputs from agencies)
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