3 EU countries plan to send Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine “within a few months”

Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands announced on Tuesday a joint initiative to send around 100 Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine, some of which could arrive “within months”.

That’s a much shorter time than the more advanced tanks Ukraine’s western allies have promised as they seek to bolster the beleaguered nation ahead of another expected Russian offensive.

The new plan, announced as Germany’s defense minister met President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, comes on top of Germany’s agreement last month to send 14 of its more modern Leopard 2 tanks and to the US commitment to send 31 of its own main battle tanks, Abrams M1s.

Germany announced that it had approved re-export licenses for up to 178 of the Leopard 1 tanks, but that the final number “depends on the repair work required”. As the tanks are of German manufacture, Berlin must approve the transfer of the vehicles sold towards other countries to re-export them towards a third.

On the German side, the Leopard 1 tanks would not come from the army but from German arms manufacturers. On Tuesday, the chief executive of one such manufacturer, Rheinmetall, told a news conference that it plans to supply Ukraine with 20-25 Leopard 1s this year and another 88 next year, reports Reuters.

With the addition of Denmark and the Netherlands to the Leopard 1 export plan, more main battle tanks could arrive in Ukraine much sooner than any of the most advanced German and American tanks, which could take several months.

“Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands supply refurbished Leopard 1 A5s from industrial stocks; the first ones being delivered in a few months,” reads a joint statement from the three nations. “In doing so, we are guided by Ukraine’s needs. Our initiative includes training on the Leopard 1 A5 as well as a set of spare parts and ammunition.

The three countries said they would like other governments to join them and that they had received interest from Belgium.

Germany resisted sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine for weeks, despite heavy pressure from its European allies, and only agreed to the plan after Washington announced it would send some of its own M1 Abrams tanks. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been wary of being seen as contributing to the escalation against Russia by a NATO ally.

At least some of the Leopard 1 tanks will require further refurbishment and modernization, and there are also fears that the supply of ammunition may be insufficient, even if they are a standard NATO size.

Some of the ammunition needed is produced in Switzerland, whose strict policy of neutrality has hampered sales for use in Ukraine. Brazil also manufactures cartridges used by the Leopard 1 tank. But due to its close ties with Russia, Brazil refused to give Germany the ammunition it produces.

Unlike the Leopard 1, the first main battle tank built for the German armed forces after World War II, the more modern Leopard 2 is one of the main battle tanks in the world. It has been used by the German military for decades and by the militaries of more than a dozen other European nations, as well as the armies of countries like Canada and Indonesia. The Leopard 2 has been used in conflicts in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Syria.

nytimes Eur

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button