A company representative said in an interview with RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND) that the German concern Rheinmetall has 139 Leopard tanks of various modifications that can be sent to Ukraine if the German government agrees.
According to him, in this way the officers would not have to empty the Bundenwehr’s reserves. The concern has 22 tanks of the Leopard-2A4 type, but their repair will last “about a year”, so they can arrange shipments only in late 2023 – early 2024. Together with them, Rheinmetall is ready to provide 88 old Leopard-1 tanks.
Another 29 tanks of the Leopard-2A4 type are intended for the “Ring Exchange” project. According to the plan, they should be sent to other NATO countries to replace Soviet-made combat vehicles delivered to Ukraine. The instrument will be ready in late April early May 2023. As the head of the concern, Armin Papperger, said, “These tanks belong to the German government – it can do whatever it wants with them.”
Ukraine is asking Western countries to supply main battle tanks for its campaign to liberate territories held by Russia. The United Kingdom was the first country to take such a step – it will send 14 of its Challenger-2 combat vehicles to Kyiv. France could do the same with its Leclerc tanks. Poland and Finland, which have German Leopard tanks, also announced such readiness. However, these can only be sent with the permission of Germany.
On 20 January at Ramstein airbase, members of the contact group failed to persuade German officials for military support to Ukraine. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also did not succeed. After meeting with him, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said that no decision had been made yet, but “it will be very soon.” The main problem is that Berlin is afraid to send tanks to the United States, the media wrote. Olaf Scholz’s office would like Washington to hand over its M1 Abrams to Kyiv first.
On January 24, Poland officially applied to Germany for permission to supply Leopard tanks to Ukraine. Earlier, Warsaw had threatened to do the same without the consent of the German side. In turn, German Foreign Minister Annalena Burbock stated that the German government would not interfere with such supplies. On January 23, the issue was discussed at a meeting of the EU Council for Foreign Affairs. The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, confirmed Burbrook’s words.
Earlier, Mikhail Podolyak, adviser to the head of the presidential office, said that Ukraine needs 300-400 Leopard tanks. According to the estimates of the Italian edition of Quotidiano Nazionale, she will be able to best position Receiving From 33 to 73 tanks, and will increase to 87 by the beginning of summer.