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Germany Closer to Ukraine Tank Approval


FILE: People hold signs referencing Leopard tanks being sent to Ukraine, at a demonstration in Berlin, Germany, Jan. 20, 2023.
FILE: People hold signs referencing Leopard tanks being sent to Ukraine, at a demonstration in Berlin, Germany, Jan. 20, 2023.

UPDATED WITH FRESH STOLTENBERG REMARKS: Germany's defense minister said Tuesday that allies could start training Ukrainian forces on using Leopard tanks, even though a decision is still pending from Berlin on whether to allow delivery of the armaments to Kyiv.

"I have expressly encouraged partner countries that have Leopard tanks that are ready for deployment to train Ukrainian forces on these tanks," said Boris Pistorius.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the "clear message" from Pistorius, "because after a decision has been taken on the delivery on battle tanks, it will take some time to identify, to make them ready and to train Ukrainian" soldiers to use them.

"We must provide heavier and more advanced systems to Ukraine, and we must do it faster," Stoltenberg said during a visit to Berlin.

"We discussed the issue of battle tanks. Consultations among our allies will continue and I'm confident that we will have a solution soon."

Poland's Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak on Tuesday said Warsaw had asked Germany for permission to send its German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

"The Germans have already received our request for consent to sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. I am also calling on the German side to join our coalition of countries supporting Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks," Blaszczak said on Twitter.

German defense group Rheinmetall could deliver 139 Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine if required, a spokesperson for the company told media group RND.

Manufacturer Rheinmetall could deliver 29 Leopard 2A4 tanks by April/May and a further 22 of the same model around the end of 2023 or early 2024, the spokesperson was quoted as saying.

It could also supply 88 older Leopard 1 tanks, the person said, without giving a timeframe for their potential delivery.

Meanwhile, Russia, whose troops would have to face the Leopard tanks if furnished to Kyiv, continues to state that "nothing good" would come of German-made Leopard tanks being delivered to Ukraine.

"These deliveries would bring nothing good to the future relationship" between Berlin and Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in his daily briefing, adding: "They will leave a lasting mark."

This report was prepared with data sourced from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.