A German Leopard 2 tank fires during a large live firing exercise on Sennelager Ranges in Germany.
A German Leopard 2 tank fires during a large live-firing exercise on Sennelager Ranges in Germany.
Ukraine

Germany confirms it will supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 battle tanks

A German Leopard 2 tank fires during a large live firing exercise on Sennelager Ranges in Germany.
A German Leopard 2 tank fires during a large live-firing exercise on Sennelager Ranges in Germany.

The German government has confirmed it will provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 battle tanks and approve requests by other countries to do the same.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday Germany is "acting in close co-ordination" with its allies.

In a statement, the government said it will initially provide Ukraine with one company of Leopard 2 A6 tanks, which comprises 14 vehicles, from its own stocks.

The goal is to provide Ukraine with a total of two battalions – 88 tanks – with donations from other countries.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak welcomed the move, saying in a tweet, alongside the UK's Challenger 2s, "they will strengthen Ukraine's defensive firepower".

The long-awaited decision comes after US officials said a preliminary agreement had been struck for the United States to send M1 Abrams tanks to help Kyiv push back Russian forces entrenched in the east, almost a year since the start of the war.

Mr Scholz had insisted that any move to provide Ukraine with powerful Leopard 2s would need to be closely co-ordinated with Germany's allies, chiefly the United States.

By getting Washington to commit some of its own tanks, Berlin hopes to spread the risk of any backlash from Russia.

Watch: Leopard 2 balances full glass of beer on its gun.

Ekkehard Brose, head of the German military's Federal Academy for Security Policy, said tying the US into the decision was crucial to avoid Europe facing a nuclear-armed Russia alone.

But he also noted the deeper historic significance of the decision.

"German-made tanks will face off against Russian tanks in Ukraine once more," he said, adding that this was "not an easy thought" for Germany, which takes its responsibility for the horrors of the Second World War seriously.

"And yet it is the right decision," Mr Brose said, arguing that it is up to Western democracies to help Ukraine stop Russia's military campaign.

Watch: All you need to know about the Leopard 2 tank.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described German and US intentions with the tanks as "a rather disastrous plan".

"I am convinced that many specialists understand the absurdity of this idea," he told reporters on Wednesday.

"Simply because of technological aspects, this is a rather disastrous plan. The main thing is, this is a completely obvious overestimation of the potential (the supply of tanks) would add to the armed forces of Ukraine.

"It is yet another fallacy, a rather profound one," the Kremlin official said.

Mr Peskov predicted "these tanks will burn down just like all the other ones… Except they cost a lot, and this will fall on the shoulders of European taxpayers," he added.