German industry stock might give Ukraine up to 160 Leopard I tanks
Reports suggest that Ukraine might end up receiving some 160 German Leopard I tanks from Germany.
Ukraine could receive up to 160 Leopard 1 tanks from the German defense industry stocks, the German newspaper Handelsblatt reported on Saturday, citing sources in the industry.
German companies Rheinmetall and Flensburger Fahrzeugbau could repair most of the Leopard 1 tanks that they have in their stocks and then prepare them for exports to Ukraine, according to the newspaper.
On Friday, German cabinet spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said that the government had approved exports of Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine, giving no details on how many tanks would be supplied.
However, the German Bundestag voted to supply Kiev with 88 Leopard 1 tanks, a government spokesperson said Friday.
"I can confirm that an export license has been issued", government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said at a press briefing.
Local sources reported earlier on Friday that Berlin had voted to approve private arms maker Rheinmetall’s plan to sell 88 Leopard 1s to Ukraine after maintenance work is completed.
The cost is reported to amount to over €100 million.
This comes against the backdrop of major policy changes undergone in Germany's approach regarding supplying Ukraine with tanks following months of pressure from Western allies.
On January 25, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that Berlin would supply Kiev with 14 Leopard 2 battle tanks as part of a European coalition.
This, however, may generate some serious logistics issues, as Leopard 1s are no longer being manufactured.
Some notable differences between the older and newer versions include the size and caliber of the tank shells.
In line with a coalition of European countries, Germany had previously announced a week ago it would approve the supply of around 80 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, as well as 14 of its own tanks.
In turn, the Russian Embassy in Germany cautioned that “this extremely dangerous decision shifts the Ukrainian conflict to a new level of standoff,” adding that "Berlin’s choice to supply tanks to Kiev means the final rejection of Germany’s historical responsibility to the Russian people."
The Russian Ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, warned that the delivery will become another "blatant provocation" against Russia and warned that the Russian military would destroy the equipment.
Since the tanks are manufactured in Germany, other allies or private firms willing to send them to Ukraine are required to obtain Germany's approval.
Over the past months, Kiev has been pressuring the West to supply it with hundreds of tanks, saying it needs to be prepared in the advent of a potential Russian counter-offensive due this Spring.
The Spanish government announced Wednesday that it had plans to send up to six Leopard 2A4 tanks to Ukraine, while discussing plans with the country's military industry, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported.