Germany, Denmark, Netherlands pledge Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine

Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands announced Tuesday that they plan to provide Ukraine with at least 100 refurbished Leopard 1 battle tanks in the coming months, a pledge that comes as Kyiv anticipates a new Russian offensive around the anniversary of its invasion.

The announcement followed Germany’s agreement last month to allow deliveries of the more modern German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

In a joint statement, the defense ministers of Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands said the shipment of the older Leopard 1 tanks was part of an effort “to support Ukraine in their endeavor to withstand Russian aggression”.

”(It) will significantly enhance Ukraine’s military potential for the restoration of their violated territorial integrity,” they said, adding that the delivery would occur “within the coming months” and include logistical support and training.

Ukrainian officials have said they expect Russian forces to make a new drive in eastern and southern areas, as the Kremlin strives to secure territory it illegally annexed in late September.

The anticipated Russian push may seek to recapture territory Moscow lost in a late summer counteroffensive. 

Some Western military analysts were skeptical, however, of Russia’s ability to mount a large new offensive in the coming weeks, particularly in time for the 24 February anniversary. Ukraine and Russia are both still training their new troops and amassing weapons.

News agency dpa reported that Germany’s defense minister Boris Pistorius said on a surprise visit to Kyiv on Tuesday that the first 20-25 Leopard 1 tanks would reach Ukraine this summer.

Pistorius’ office said German authorities had authorised the export of up to 178 Leopard 1 A5 tanks to Ukraine but noted that the actual number sent would depend on the refurbishments required.

Germany last month agreed to send 14 newer Leopard 2 A6 tanks from its military’s current stocks. The country’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday that the first Leopard 2s could arrive in Ukraine by the end of March. The first Ukrainian soldiers to be trained on the tanks departed for Germany this week.

For more watch Euronews’ report in the video above.

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