Zelenskyy thanks Germany for agreeing to supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks

Germany will supply its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced on Wednesday, overcoming concerns about sending heavy weaponry that for Kyiv is crucial in defeating the Russian invasion. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed his gratitude to the Chancellor for the decision.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was "”sincerely grateful” to Germany and Chancellor Olaf Scholz for Berlin's “important and timely” decision to provide Kyiv with battle tanks.

The first information about Germany’s decision surfaced on Tuesday evening, given to “Der Spiegel” daily by a source familiar with the matter. Later that evening Christian Dürr, parliamentary leader of the co-governing Free Democrats (FDP), was quoted by the t-online news portal 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," Christian Dürr said.”

“This decision follows our well-known line of supporting Ukraine to the best of our ability. We are acting in a closely coordinated manner internationally,” Scholz said in an official statement given on Monday morning.

The announcement emphasised the goal is to speedily establish two battalions with Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine, with Germany providing 14 Leopard 2 tanks from its own military stocks. The statement further mentioned that training of Ukrainian troops in Germany will begin soon, and that Germany will also provide logistics and ammunition.

Germany is to issue the appropriate transfer permits to partner countries that want to quickly deliver Leopard 2 tanks from their stocks to Ukraine, Scholz concluded.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Germany's decision, saying in an interview with media outlet “Welt” that they would help Ukraine win against Russia.

“At a critical moment in Russia's war, these tanks can help Ukraine defend itself, win and stand as an independent nation,” he said.

The decision was also welcomed by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Germany’s decision paves the way for other countries such as Poland, Spain and Norway to supply their stocks of Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

Poland has been at the forefront in pushing for Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine. The Netherlands and Finland have already stated they will send their own Leopards to Ukraine, while other countries, like Norway and Spain for example, have announced they are considering a similar move.

Germany caves in under pressure

Pressure had been building for weeks on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government to send the tanks and to allow other NATO allies to do the same ahead of an anticipated spring offensive by both sides that could help turn the tide of the war.