German Leopard 2 tank fires during their largest live firing exercise on Sennelager Ranges in Germany 150321 CREDIT BFBS.jpeg
German Leopard 2 tank fires during their largest live firing exercise on Sennelager Ranges in Germany.
Ukraine

Defence minister ramps up pressure on Germany over sending tanks to Ukraine

German Leopard 2 tank fires during their largest live firing exercise on Sennelager Ranges in Germany 150321 CREDIT BFBS.jpeg
German Leopard 2 tank fires during their largest live firing exercise on Sennelager Ranges in Germany.

German Leopard 2 tanks being provided to Ukraine would be a "quantum step", a UK defence minister has said, ramping up the pressure on Berlin to increase its military aid.

Speaking in Parliament, Baroness Goldie said such support would be a "very significant step forward".

Pressed at Westminster, the Tory frontbencher also did not rule out the UK sending more Challenger 2 tanks in support of the Kyiv government, in addition to the 14 already promised.

Her comments came ahead of a meeting of allies at Ramstein Air Base in western Germany, to be hosted by US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, which will be attended by Britain's Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and the Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin.

The German-made Leopard 2 tank is widely regarded as the best of its kind in the world, combining both speed and accuracy, and capable of hitting targets 5km away whilst on the move.

Polish Leopard 2 tanks on exercise Poland 211114 Image ID EB2511 CREDIT Andrew Chittock Alamy Stock Photo.jpg
German-made Polish Leopard 2 tanks - picture on exercise - are being sent to Ukraine (Picture: Andrew Chittock/Alamy Stock Photo).

The Leopard 2 comes fitted with a 120mm smooth-bore cannon as well as a 7.62mm machine gun and a 40mm automatic grenade launcher or .50 machine gun.

It has a top speed of 44mph and a range of 280 miles.

Germany has been hesitant to send tanks, reportedly not wanting to be the only country sending heavy weaponry to Kyiv.

Former Labour MP Baroness Stuart of Edgbaston urged the secretary of state to push for a commitment to Leopard 2 tanks when he meets his German counterpart at the summit.

The independent crossbencher, who previously served on the Intelligence and Security Committee and is the current chairwoman of Wilton Park, an executive agency of the Foreign Office, said: "Because without that contribution, which is comprehensive, Ukraine will not get the response it needs and deserves."

Lady Goldie said: "I think there is a lot of sympathy with the point she makes."

She added: "There is a recognition that despite the donation of tanks to date… there is a quantum step that could be taken with the addition of the Leopard tanks."

Labour peer Viscount Stansgate, said: "If the provision of these Challenger 2 tanks is thought to be a success is it the Government's intention to provide further such tanks to Ukraine?"

Watch: Maintaining Challenger 2 tanks will be biggest challenge, former tank regiment officer says.

Lady Goldie said: "We constantly review what the assessed need is."

She added: "Part of this is, in a sense, what in aggregate we can achieve with individual contributions. There are other countries donating tanks. I think the addition of Leopard tanks would be a very significant step forward."

Liberal Democrat former leader Lord Campbell of Pittenweem said: "The House supports without qualification the supply of arms to Ukraine.

"But are we not entitled to credible evidence that the Government is even now replenishing our own stock of military equipment so as to maintain now the credibility and capability of our own armed forces?"

Lady Goldie said: "Certainly we are confident that we have retained sufficient equipment, ammunitions, so we are able to undertake our primary responsibilities in the security of the United Kingdom."

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