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



CNN

Germany is to send its sought-after Panther 2 tanks to Ukraine to support the country’s war effort, Der Spiegel reported Tuesday evening, citing unnamed sources. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz decided to deliver the battle tanks after months of debate, according to an exclusive German news agency report.

Germany’s parliament is due to debate the controversial issue on Wednesday morning. The decision to send them would mark a key moment in Western support for Kiev after days of intense pressure on Berlin from some NATO partners.

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

The report comes shortly after US officials revealed on Tuesday that the Biden administration was finalizing plans to send US-made tanks to Ukraine. Germany said last week that it would not send its Panther tanks to the United States unless it agreed to send its own M1 Abrams tanks.

The delivery of the Panther 2 tanks to Ukraine will provide Kyiv’s forces with powerful modern military equipment ahead of Russia’s spring offensive. It would be a blow to the Kremlin, which is ramping up its campaign to equip Ukraine’s military with high-tech combat systems as Russia’s ground war approaches a year.

New German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has repeatedly insisted that Western pressure to ship some German tanks to Ukraine is both good and bad for Berlin.

Warsaw raised the stakes on Tuesday when it formally requested permission to send its Panthers, which Berlin had previously said it would not block.

Several European countries also own some Panthers, and Poland has attempted to export them back to Ukraine, despite Germany’s absence. But the decision by Scholz and Pistorius was important because the tanks are manufactured in Germany, and Germany often controls their export and re-export.

A Polish official told CNN on Tuesday that Berlin had not formally informed Warsaw of the decision to allow the Panthers to be sent to Ukraine.

The German army has 320 Leopard tanks, but it has not been reported how many are ready for combat, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense previously told CNN.

Ukraine has been promised several high-tech combat systems as a wave of Western military aid resumes since the start of the year. Last week, the United States finalized a massive $2.5 billion military aid package for Ukraine, including for the first time Stryker combat vehicles, while Britain and several EU countries agreed to send tanks.

Pistorius, who became Germany’s defense minister on Thursday, has seen his first days in office dominated by attempts by key allies to join the trend by shipping Panthers to Ukraine. Germany, in turn, sought assurances that the United States would send its own tanks.

But Friday’s Berlin summit failed to reach an agreement on sending the Panthers, with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki accusing Germany of “wasting time” by failing to reach a resolution, showing the frustration of some leaders.

Boris Pistorius and Lloyd Austin met on Thursday.

The Irves 2 tank will be a powerful combat vehicle on the Ukrainian battlefield.

Each tank carries a 120 mm Smoothhore gun and a 7.62 mm machine gun; It can reach speeds of 70 km/h or 50 km/h off-road, making maneuverability one of its key features. According to German manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, there is all-round protection against threats such as improvised explosive devices, mines and anti-tank fire.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi 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 go by inspiration alone,” he said in a virtual appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week.

When Germany stagnates, Zelensky said, “There are times when you don’t need to hesitate. When people say, ‘I’ll give you a tank if someone else gives it to me.’

Russia, meanwhile, tried to threaten Germany. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, when asked at a regular press conference about Moscow’s reaction if Berlin agreed to send tanks, said relations between the two countries were “at a very low level” and said, “At the moment, there are no real talks with Germany or the rest of the EU.” . NATO countries.”

“Of course, such a delivery does not bode well for the future of the relationship. They will soon leave their mark,” said Peskov.

Previous military aid, like the American HIMARS missile system, has helped Ukraine mount several successful counterattacks in recent months.

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