Germany and the United States will reportedly send tanks to Ukraine to help the country fight off Russia’s invasion.
While there has been no official confirmation from Berlin or Washington, Ukrainian officials have celebrated what they said was a potential game-changer.
“A few hundred tanks for our tank crews – the best tank crews in the world. This is what is going to become a real
punching fist of democracy against the autocracy from the bog,” Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s administration, wrote on Telegram.
US President Joe Biden’s administration is said to be ready to approve sending M1 Abrams tanks, while Germany is said to be preparing to send Leopard 2 tanks.
Germany’s decision concerns at least one company of Leopard 2 tanks, Der Spiegel magazine said. One company is typically made up of 14 tanks.
Berlin is also expected to announce it will approve Poland’s request to transfer the German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
On Tuesday, Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the Poles – and other Western allies he did not identify – were already training Ukrainian soldiers on the Leopards in Poland.
Kyiv has been pleading for months for Western nations to send tanks to give its forces the firepower and mobility it hopes will be able to break through Russian defensive lines and recapture territory occupied by Russia.
What is the Leopard 2 battle tank?
Germany wary move could cause Moscow to escalate further
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrat party had been holding back on the move, wary it could cause Moscow to escalate further.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had said the deployment of Western tanks would trigger “unambiguously negative” consequences.
The German-made Leopards, used by armies across Europe, are widely considered the best option as they are available in large numbers and are easy to deploy and maintain.
Meanwhile the US M1 Abrams is considered a less suitable option due to its heavy fuel consumption and difficulty to maintain, but a move to supply the tanks would appear designed to make it easier for Germany, which has called for a united front among Ukraine’s allies, to allow the supply of Leopards.
Officials reportedly said the tanks would likely be procured through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) fund, in a process that could take months or even years for the tanks to be delivered.
UK to send Challenger 2 tanks
Earlier this month the UK announced it would send a squadron of 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine “in the coming weeks”.
It comes after Sky News exclusively revealed the UK was considering supplying Ukraine with British tanks.