Scholz reportedly releases Leopards to aid Ukraine

A Leopard 2 main battle tank of the Bundeswehr. Photo: David Hecker/Getty Images

Germany has reportedly made the decision to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine to help repel Russia's invasion, and furthermore to allow other countries such as Poland to send over their Leopard 2 tanks, while the United States is finalizing plans to send US-made Abrams to the embattled country, various media reported on Tuesday.

Germany have received Poland’s request to give Ukraine tanks: Def Min Błaszczak

In a recent statement made by the Polish Defence Minister, Mariusz Błaszczak, Poland has officially requested Germany to re-export Leopard 2 tanks...

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Reuters said it based its report on this matter thanks to two sources familiar with the topic.

Germany’s federal government finally “paves the way for the delivery of Leopard 2 main battle tanks”, German Der Spiegel daily wrote on Tuesday, adding that at least one company of Leopard 2A6s, which is about 14 tanks, will make the journey from Germany to Ukraine.

This information remains as yet unverified given the lack of comment from German government spokespersons, and also the foreign and defence ministries in Berlin.

Nonetheless, Katrin Goering-Eckardt, deputy head of the Bundestag, tweeted “The #Leopard's freed!” on Tuesday sharing a link to a media report on the news.

Meanwhile, Christian Duerr, parliamentary leader of the co-governing Free Democrats (FDP), was quoted by t-online news website as saying “today the Chancellor made a decision that no one took lightly. The fact that Germany will support Ukraine with the Leopard tank is a strong sign of solidarity.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak stated that Poland has officially requested Germany to deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. This move ramped had up the pressure on Berlin to decisively call the shots on allowing the re-export of the NATO workhorse heavy tank.

While it had seemed the US and its allies had failed to persuade Germany during a Friday meeting of defence leaders in Ramstein, on Tuesday nevertheless German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius announced: “We are preparing our decision, which will come very soon” as to the tanks.

Polish President Andrzej Duda stated a couple of days ago, that Poland would deliver its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

Other allies such as Finland, intend to tag along together with Germany in supplying their Leopard tanks to Kyiv.

Going at it with Uncle Sam

Der Spiegel wrote, that Chancellor Scholz had always stressed he “did not want to go it alone” in sending the tanks and would only consent to supply the main battle tanks should other nations such as the US mirror the move.

US officials told Reuters on Tuesday that Washington may soon cease to oppose sending Abrams tanks to Ukraine. Initially, the move was intended to encourage Germany to follow but it remains unknown whether Scholz had decided to send the Leopards with a US promise in hand that Washington would do the same or if the initiative had been on his side.

The Pentagon refrained from commenting on any coming announcements on the Abrams, as well as whether or not Germany would greenlight deliveries of the Leopards.

Defence Secretary [Lloyd] Austin “did have very productive conversations with his German counterpart when he was in Germany” for meetings last week, Brigadier General Patrick Ryder told a news conference.

An announcement regarding the Abrams tanks could come, according to CNN citing three US officials familiar with the deliberations, “as soon as this week.”

Mark Hartling, a retired US soldier and security expert, said that if the news on the Abrams was true, which he believed it is “it will take significant time to not just train the crews and units (as stated in [CNN’s] article) but also even more time to ‘set’ logistics and support infrastructure.”

“This is part of long-term plan to help transform Ukraine’s Army,” he tweeted. The first to report on the US considering sending in the Abrams, was by Sky News Arabia.