Germany approved delivery of 14 of its Leopard 2 main battle tanks for Ukraine Wednesday, a stark reversal of policy that came after intense pressure from Kyiv and Western allies, according to media reports.
Leopards will begin rolling into Ukraine within three months in a coordinated campaign involving the U.S. and partners to fulfill Kyiv’s requests for heavy Western armor, according to The Wall Street Journal. Berlin has resisted sending tanks, citing escalation concerns, with the change of policy following days of concerted discussions between the U.S. and Germany that also resulted in an expected announcement of U.S.-made M1 Abrams tanks for Ukraine.
“It was right and it is right that we have not allowed ourselves to be rushed, but that we rely on this close cooperation [with allies] and that we also continue it,” German Chacellor Olaf Scholz said, Politico reported.
Other nations that operate Leopard 2s will pull from their arsenal as well with the goal of assembling two full tank battalions, with the first set to arrive in the next few months, according to the WSJ. Battalions on average comprise of roughly 50 tanks each. (RELATED: NATO Can’t Keep Up With Ukraine’s Latest Weapons Demand After Putin Once Again Escalates Attacks: REPORT)
Other European governments have pledged to deliver their own Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, but are barred from doing so as a condition of operating the German-origin equipment without explicit consent from Berlin. Poland put in a formal request on Tuesday to deliver its Leopards, which Germany acknowledged Tuesday, Reuters reported.
The Biden administration is expected to announce roughly 30 Abrams main battle tanks and additional support equipment for Ukraine Wednesday, according to The Washington Post. The new Abrams will not likely come straight from production rather than existing U.S. stocks or those operated by partner governments, however, and could take months or years to arrive.
Abrams are “probably not for the near fight,” an official told the Post. Delivering the tanks to Ukraine requires sourcing or producing the equipment, conducting extensive training on new systems and establishing sustainment and maintenance supply lines, all of which takes time and factored into the Pentagon’s opposition toward delivering the tanks.
The promised delivery of U.S. tanks contributed to a larger diplomatic effort to persuade Germany to OK Leopards for Ukraine, officials told the WSJ Tuesday on condition of anonymity.
Scholz said in a meeting with U.S. lawmakers at the World Economic Forum last week that Berlin would consider allowing its tanks to be used by Ukraine, but only if the U.S. also simultaneously agreed to supply its own tanks, Politico reported.
Four different training pipelines, four separate logistics streams, four different maintenance requirements. It is not a commentary on Ukrainian ability to say this Frankenstein solution is going to be extraordinarily difficult to manage and use effectively. https://t.co/EhPNJGcZuI
— Blake Herzinger (@BDHerzinger) January 25, 2023
Kyiv is preparing to mount a counteroffensive in the spring, while Russia is preparing to mobilize and ramp up the intensity of invasion efforts as the chill of winter eases, U.S. officials said Monday.
The German defense ministry did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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