More European countries to join Germany in sending tanks to Ukraine
Sweden's Defense Minister says he does not "exclude" the idea of Stockholm sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
Following the trend, Spain announced on Wednesday that it was ready to send some of its German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine after Berlin granted approval for their European transfers.
After weeks of pressure from Ukraine and other allies, Berlin agreed to send 14 of its Leopard 2 tanks, seen as among the best in the world. The move opened the way for other European nations that operate Leopards to send tanks from their own fleets to Ukraine.
However, 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.”
"Spain is ready... to deal with our allies in any way necessary, whether that means sending Leopards, training in the use of Leopards or help in their maintenance and upkeep," Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles said.
Robles' remarks came shortly after Berlin said it would send some of its own Leopards to Kiev and cleared other European nations to send their own stocks to Ukraine.
The Spanish Minister did not specify numbers or give a delivery date, but said Spain would assess what it could provide in terms of hardware and training.
"We'll have a look at the material we have because some of (tanks) need upgrading while others are in such a bad state that they can't be handed over," she said.
According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the Spanish military has 327 Leopard battle tanks, making it one of the armies with the largest number.
El Pais daily said 108 of them were Leopard 2A4s bought second-hand from Germany in 1995, while the other 239 were Leopard 2E combat tanks, a variant of Germany's Leopard adapted by the Spanish military and built in Spain.
On the other hand, Spain's left-wing Podemos party, which is a partner in Spain's left-wing coalition, voiced opposition to sending arms to Ukraine.
"Many experts are warning that the deployment of Leopards would only contribute to the escalation of war and could trigger an unpredictable and very dangerous response from Russia," Podemos leader Ione Belarra told Spain's public television.
Belarra considered that "peace will come through negotiation and de-escalation and that is what Spain should focus on."
Read more: Berlin to deliver Leopard tanks to Kiev no earlier than in 3-4 months
First AMX 10RC armored vehicles to be delivered to Kiev in February
In the same context, French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu confirmed on Wednesday that the first AMX 10RC armored vehicles, which France is sending to Ukraine, will be delivered in February.
"We want to act as quickly as possible. I expect that the first deliveries will be made in early February," Lecornu told France 5 channel.
The French Minister said that France does not disclose a specific number of armored vehicles supplied to Ukraine for security reasons.
"We treat this with caution. The Russians said they plan to strike at logistics chains through which Western military aid can pass, so we are more cautious about the timing and quantity of deliveries," Lecornu explained.
Norway will send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine
On his part, Norwegian Defense Minister Bjorn Arild Gram also confirmed that Norway will join other European countries in sending Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine.
"Norway and the government support the donation of battle tanks to Ukraine. Norway will take part," the Norwegian Minister said in an interview with Norwegian public television NRK without emphasizing how many tanks would be sent.
Sweden 'not excluding' sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine
In a similar context, Sweden's Defense Minister Pal Jonson said on Wednesday that he does not "exclude" the idea of Stockholm sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
"I don't exclude the possibility that we can do that in the future, working with other countries," Jonson told AFP in an interview.
"We could possibly contribute in various ways. It could be related to logistics, maintenance, training, but also tanks as such," he indicated.
Sweden, which has broken with its doctrine of not delivering weapons to a country at war, last week pledged a major package of arms for Ukraine, including modern howitzers and armored vehicles.
Jonson noted that Stockholm's focus right now "is on delivering that rather substantial contribution."
Read more: Finland may consider joining NATO without Sweden under circumstances
Zelensky says US tanks keep Ukraine on 'path to victory'
On his part, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked US President Joe Biden for his decision to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine.
Earlier, the United States announced that it will provide Ukraine with 31 Abrams tanks. Biden considered the $400 million decision essential to assist Ukrainians "improve their ability to maneuver in open terrain."
"It's an important step on the path to victory," Zelensky tweeted, thanking Biden for a "powerful" decision.
"A historic day," Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine's presidential administration, said commenting on Biden's decision.
"One of those days that will determine our future victory," Yermak said on Telegram.
"We'll never forget it," he added. "The great time is coming."
It is noteworthy that Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said on Tuesday that the Abrams tanks delivery will become another "blatant provocation" against Russia and warned that the Russian military would destroy the equipment.
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