After caving to pressure from inside NATO and agreeing to export over a dozen Leopard 2 tanks to Kiev, Germany has also added its older Leopard 1s to the package of Western main battle tanks. Ukraine expects to receive over 100 NATO-made tanks in the “first wave.”
A German government official confirmed that Berlin had authorized the transfer on Friday, saying that an export license was issued for the tanks, though the spokesman offered few other details.
According to Der Spiegel, a German outlet, the authorization includes 29 Leopard 1 tanks, which will undergo maintenance before they head off for the battlefield. The report comes just weeks after Berlin gave into arm-twisting and agreed to send its more modern Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine.
While the government had refused Kiev’s demand for main battle tanks, pressure mounted over the winter as Russian troops began making gains in Ukraine’s east, with both Kiev and other German allies urging Berlin to supply the weapon.
Last week, the Swiss outlet Neue Zürcher Zeitung reported that Berlin only agreed to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine after American President Joe Biden said the US would send Abrams tanks to Ukraine.
Several NATO countries, including the US, UK, Germany and Poland, have now committed to sending Kiev advanced tanks. Moscow has carried out a series of strikes across Ukraine in recent days, apparently in retaliation to the tank announcements, insisting the foreign weapons would ”burn” whenever they reach the battlefield.