Germany supplied all 18 promised Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraineas confirmed on Monday by the head of government Olaf Schölz, after the insistent demands of kyiv to be able to fight against the Russian forces. British Challenger tanks and US Stryker and Cougar tanks are also already in Ukraine.
“Yes, we delivered the Leopard tanks as announced,” the leader replied at a press conference in Rotterdam together with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, when asked about information revealed by the newspaper Der Spiegel.
According to the weekly, 18 tanks were sentand the last vehicles left Germany at the end of last week and “already delivered”.
Some 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles were also supplied, it added. Der Spiegel. He specified that the German government kept the itinerary of the shipment “secret” for security reasons.
“According to information from security circles, Leopard tanks are delivered to Ukraine with a large set of weapons and spare parts,” the same source added.
After being pressured from all sides to deliver Leopard 2 tanks, the successor to Angela Merkel finally authorized tank shipments at the end of February.
The Executive gave the green light at the end of January to the supply to Ukraine of the Leopard 2, made in Germany. The authorization came after weeks of pressure on Berlin from both kyiv and Ukraine’s Western allies, who they also required German permission to deliver to that country the battle tanks available to their respective armies.
Among the countries that joined the decision to support Ukraine by sending tanks of this model currently in its armed forces is Poland, Spain, Portugal, Finland, the Netherlands and Norway.
The United States, for its part, has agreed to supply tanks of the type Abramsequivalent to the Leopard 2.
Germany initially announced that it would deliver 14 units of these tanks, in its 2A6 version, but later added another four to achieve the objective of joining two “Leopard2″ battalions -each with 31 tanks-.
Ukrainian soldiers were trained at German bases to handle these 2A6 type Leopard 2 heavy battle tanks.
On the other hand, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has published an image of the new war vehicles along with Reznikov’s text. “Today I have had the honor (…) of testing the new acquisitions of our armored units: Challenger from the United Kingdom, Stryker and Cougar from the United States and Marder from Germany,” he recounted.
These deliveries have a special symbolism for kyiv and Berlin after months of Ukrainian requests addressed to the German government. In January Scholz finally gave in to the pressure and announced the shipment of Leopard 2 after reaching an agreement with Washington whereby the United States would also send Abrams tanks.
Ukraine believes that these vehicles represent a qualitative improvement to forces based primarily on Soviet-era materiel.
For its part, the German government qualified this Monday the announcement of this weekend by the Russian president, Vladimir Putinof an agreement with Belarus for the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in the territory of that country of yet another escalation and a new attempt at nuclear deterrence.
In an ordinary press conference, the spokesman for the Executive, Steffen Hebestreitspoke of “another step in the escalation” by the Russian side, “at least in rhetorical terms”, and recalled that the origin and responsibility of this conflict “lies solely and exclusively with Moscow”.
The foreign spokesperson, Andrea SasseMeanwhile, he described the Russian announcement as “yet another attempt at nuclear deterrence”, while expressly rejecting this rhetoric as “irresponsible”. “Of course, we will not be deterred from supporting the Ukrainians in their self-defense,” he said.
(With information from AFP, EP and EFE)
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