BERLIN (Reuters) -German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has decided to send Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine and allow other countries such as Poland to do so while the United States may supply Abrams tanks, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
A government spokesperson, the foreign ministry and the defence ministry declined to comment.
The decision concerns at least one company of Leopard 2 A6 tanks that will be provided out of Bundeswehr stocks, said Spiegel magazine, which first reported the news. One company usually comprises 14 tanks.
"Today the Chancellor made a decision that no one took lightly. The fact that Germany will support Ukraine with the Leopard tank is a strong sign of solidarity," Christian Duerr, parliamentary leader of the co-governing Free Democrats (FDP) was quoted as saying by t-online news portal.
"The #Leopard's freed!," Katrin Goering-Eckardt, vice president of the Bundestag, tweeted, sharing a link of media report on the news.
Other allies, in Scandinavia for example, intend to go along with Germany in supplying their Leopard tanks to Kyiv, the magazine reported.
In the longer term, more tanks could be restored to be fit for use, according to the magazine.
U.S. officials told Reuters that Washington may soon drop its opposition to sending Abrams tanks to Ukraine, in a move intended to encourage Germany to follow.
The Pentagon declined to comment on any coming announcements on the Abrams. It also declined to comment on whether Germany might green light deliveries of the Leopards.
Defence "Secretary (Lloyd) Austin did have very productive conversations with his German counterpart when he was in Germany" for meetings last week, Brigadier General Patrick Ryder told a news conference.
(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa, Andreas Rinke, Holger Hansen in Berlin, Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali in Washington; writing by Sabine Siebold; editing by Jonathan Oatis)