Germany to send Leopard battle tanks, Ukrainian MP says

A Leopard 2 tank is pictured during a demonstration event held for the media by the German Bundeswehr in Munster near Hannover, Germany. Credit: AP

Germany has decided to send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine to help bolster the country's fight against Russia's invasion, according to a Ukrainian MP.

According to Inna Sovsun, German lawmakers had told her that provisions to send a supply of the tanks had been agreed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the deployment of Western tanks would trigger “unambiguously negative” consequences.

Germany had previously resisted mounting pressure either to supply its own tanks or clear the way for other countries, such as Poland, to send the German-made tanks from their own stocks.

Ukrainian MP, Inna Sovsun wrote on Twitter: "My friends and colleagues from the Bundestag have just confirmed that Scholz has agreed to the supply of Leopard 2 tanks from Germany to Ukraine. Great news! Thanks!"

Poland has repeatedly expressed willingness to send the tanks, but due export licences, the eastern European country requires Germany's permission to do so.

ITV News Correspondent John Ray reports on the latest developments in Ukraine

For months, Kyiv has been pleading for Western tanks - something it says it desperately needs to give its forces the firepower necessary to break Russian defensive lines and recapture occupied territory.

The hesitation has drawn criticism, particularly from Poland and the Baltic countries on NATO’s eastern flank that feel especially threatened by Russia.

On the same day reports of Germany sending tanks surfaced, US officials said Joe Biden is poised to approve sending M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

Until now, the US has resisted providing its own M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, citing extensive and complex maintenance and logistical challenges with the high-tech vehicles.

Washington believes it would be more productive to send German Leopards since many allies have them and Ukrainian troops would need less training than on the more difficult Abrams.

The two events suggest the international reluctance to send tanks to the battlefront against the Russians has begun to erode.

The decision could be announced as soon as Wednesday, though it could take months or years for the tanks to be delivered.

US officials said details are still being worked out. One official said the tanks would be bought under an upcoming Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative package, which provides longer-range funding for weapons and equipment to be purchased from commercial vendors.

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