February 5, 2023

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BERLIN — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is expected to announce the delivery of German Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine on Wednesday, an official with knowledge of the matter told POLITICO.

That decision is a significant U-turn and potentially a decisive moment in the war as it should pave the way for a broader coalition of countries to send battle tanks to the fronts against the Russian invaders. As Leopard 2 tanks are made in Germany, Berlin has to give its permission for their re-export.

Berlin has long resisted sending the Leopard 2s, wanting Washington to take the first step in sending heavy armor. That kind of joint action finally appeared to be imminent on Tuesday, with two U.S. officials saying the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden was leaning toward sending “a significant number” of M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. An announcement on the U.S. tanks could come as early as this week.

Scholz’s expected announcement — which has not yet been officially confirmed — comes as the chancellor is scheduled to address the German parliament on Wednesday at 1 p.m. According to the official, Germany will also confirm that it will allow other countries such as Poland to send their Leopard tanks to Ukraine. Warsaw said on Tuesday that it had sent its formal request for those re-exports.

German magazine Spiegel also reported Tuesday evening that the chancellor had decided to supply Ukraine with Leopard tanks, saying that Germany would send “at least one company of Leopard 2A6s” as part of a broader coalition of countries that would also send the German-made vehicle.

A German government spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

Ukraine had pressed hard for Germany to agree to send tanks at a meeting of defense ministers at the U.S. Ramstein air base in Germany in Friday, but German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius dashed Kyiv’s hope, saying no decision had been made.


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