BERLIN — Germany has agreed to permit the export of its Leopard 1 battle tanks to Ukraine, a authorities spokesman stated on Friday, creating a possibility for elevated tank transfers to Ukraine as battles intensify within the nation’s east.
The Leopard 1 is an older mannequin of a German-made tank that Berlin accredited the export of final month, the Leopard 2. The older tanks, which had been produced from the Sixties to the Eighties, would wish refurbishing earlier than they may very well be prepared to be used in fight. They could additionally face a scarcity of obtainable ammunition.
The Leopard 1 tanks will almost definitely come from the shares of German weapons producers. However the chancellor’s spokesman, Steffen Hebestreit, declined to offer particulars or touch upon what number of may very well be delivered. German information media reviews have put the quantity at 29 to 88 tanks.
“I don’t wish to say rather more at this stage,” Mr. Hebestreit informed journalists in Berlin on Friday. “That can then grow to be extra concrete within the coming days and weeks.”
Final week, underneath heavy strain from European allies, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany agreed to ship Ukraine 14 of Berlin’s considerably extra fashionable Leopard 2 tanks and to permit different nations with the German-made tanks to do the identical. He agreed to the transfers after america dedicated to sending Kyiv as much as 30 of its M1 Abrams tanks.
A crucial complication for getting Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine might be ammunition. Among the ammunition wanted is produced in Switzerland, whose strict neutrality coverage has hindered gross sales to be used in Ukraine. Brazil additionally manufactures rounds utilized by the Leopard 1 tank. However due to its shut ties to Russia, Brazil has declined to present Germany the ammunition it produces — even after a go to to the nation by Mr. Scholz final week, based on the Portuguese and German information media.
Not like the Leopard 1 — the primary predominant battle tank constructed for Germany’s armed forces after World Battle II — the extra fashionable Leopard 2 is likely one of the world’s main battle tanks. It has been utilized by the German Military for many years and by the militaries of greater than a dozen different European nations, in addition to by the armies of nations like Canada and Indonesia. The Leopard 2 has been utilized in conflicts in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Syria.