Germany ‘agrees to send tanks to Ukraine’ following Kyiv’s pleas for support

A Leopard battle tank, pictured in Finland  (AP)
A Leopard battle tank, pictured in Finland (AP)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has agreed to send tanks to Ukraine following the nation’s repeated appeals to Western allies, according to reports.

Kyiv has pleaded for months for Western tanks, which it says it needs to give its forces the firepower and mobility to pierce Russian defensive lines and recapture occupied territory.

Until now, among the Nato allies only the UK has agreed to send tanks, in the form of 14 British Army Challenger 2s.

Berlin refused to take a decision on whether to export its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine during an international summit on Friday.

Mr Scholz has been hesitant to send the tanks- or allow other nations to send theirs - over concerns it could escalate the conflict with Russia.

Leopard 2s are made in Germany and Berlin needs to approve their export.

Berlin’s hesitation prompted the leaders of dozens of major Commons committees to write to Germany’s Defence Ministry, pleading with it to heed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s call and speed up the delivery of military support.

On Tuesday, German news magazine Der Spiegel reported Chancellor Olaf Scholz had decided to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, and to allow other countries such as Poland to do so.

At least a company of Leopard 2 A6 tanks are to be sent, several German outlets reported. A company is usually 14 tanks,the same number of Leopards Poland wants to send.

After Berlin dragged its heels over the decision on tanks last week, Poland indicated it would send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine with or without the permission of Germany which, as producer of the battle vehicles, has a veto on their distribution to other countries.

Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki told the BBC earlier on Tuesday that Germany had a “special responsibility” to support Ukraine, having built up “huge Russian funds” before the war by buying its gas.

It was also reported on Tuesday that the US is now poised to approved sending M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, in what would be a U-turn.

News agency the Associated Press (AP) said it was told by US officials that the decision could be announced as soon as Wednesday, though it could take months or years for the tanks to be delivered. According to AP, the details are still being worked out.

On Monday , former Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the West to “double and treble” support for Ukraine, and provide it with the weapons it needs to defeat Russia.

“What conceivable grounds can there be for delay?” he wrote in an article for Mail Plus. “Why are we not giving the Ukrainians all the help they need, now, when they need it?

“The sooner we can help the Ukrainians to their inevitable victory, the sooner the whole world can begin to recover from Putin’s catastrophe.

“That requires the West to double and treble our support.”

Calling on its allies to hurry up and supply tanks and air defence systems, Kyiv last week said Ukraine was paying in lives for the slow pace of discussions in foreign capitals.

“We have no time, the world does not have this time,” Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, wrote on the Telegram messaging app on Thursday.