Germany agrees to send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine after weeks of pressure : NPR

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stands next to a Leopard 2 main battle tank of the German armed forces while visiting an army training center in Ostenholz, Germany, on October 17, 2022.

David Hecker/Getty Images


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David Hecker/Getty Images

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stands next to a Leopard 2 main battle tank of the German armed forces while visiting an army training center in Ostenholz, Germany, on October 17, 2022.

David Hecker/Getty Images

BERLIN — After weeks of pressure from allies, Germany has agreed to allow its state-of-the-art Leopard tanks to be delivered to Ukraine, in a marked reversal from its leaders’ reluctance to significantly increase the -military support to help the country fight Russia. .

Stedden Hebestreit, spokesman for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, confirmed to NPR that Germany will send a company of 14 tanks, and that Scholz announced the decision during a cabinet meeting Wednesday morning. He called this the result of “intense consultations” with Berlin’s closest European and international partners.

Ukrainian crews will soon begin training on battle tanks in Germany soon, Hebestreit said. Germany will also authorize other countries that have their own stocks of Leopard 2 tanks to export them to Ukraine.

On Tuesday, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius came out of a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and indicated that Germany was open to other countries with Leopard tanks training Ukrainian troops on how to operate them. Then Poland officially requested that the German government issues an export license to Warsaw for its Leopard battle tanks.

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö also indicated that his country is ready to supply Kyiv with tanks.

German arms companies manufacture the Leopard 2, and the German government legally has the final say on how and where the tanks are used, even when other countries offer to export them.

Scholz had consistently refused to give permission to his country or others to export Leopard tanks to Ukraine, saying that Western tanks should be supplied to Kyiv only if there is agreement among the main allies, particularly the United States.

US officials have been pressing Germany to send Leopard tanks but previously said the Biden administration was not sending the American-made tanks because of challenges with training and maintenance.

Berlin is also reluctant to provide weapons that would allow Kyiv to carry out attacks on Russian soil or that could potentially bring NATO into a wider conflict with Moscow. Scholz claimed during the Russian invasion of Ukraine that lasted almost 11 months that Germany already one of the largest of Ukraine financial backers.

“Germany will not go alone, Germany will act together with its allies and especially with our trans-Atlantic partner, the United States. Anything else would be irresponsible in such a dangerous situation,” said the chancellor at an event sponsored by his center-left Social Democratic Party on January 9 in Berlin.

For months, public opinion in Germany supported Scholz’s refusal to send heavy weapons to Ukraine. But according to a Maybe a survey last week, German public support for the supply of battle tanks to Ukraine grew to an all-time high: 46% of those polled are in favor of delivering Leopard tanks and the same percentage is against him.

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