A few months ago, the German Ministry of Defense compiled a list of all models of Leopard tanks that the country has, including those that could be handed over to Ukraine, German newspaper Der Spiegel reported on Jan. 21, citing sources in the German government.
Referring to the documentation available to journalists, the publication wrote that the German military, known as the Bundeswehr, has 212 operational Leopards of various models. About a hundred more tanks were under repair as of the beginning of summer 2022.
According to Spiegel, the German Ministry of Defense believes that 19 Leopard 2A5 tanks are the most suitable for sending to Ukraine. They are currently used as train-ing models, and are likely slated for decommissioning, according to German service members.
The publication clarifies that those 200 or so tanks represent the only Leopards that Berlin has. Ukraine can also receive Leopards from other countries, such as Poland. So, by approving the delivery of the Leopards, Germany will formally give a “green light” to its European partners, who are increasingly insistent on providing Ukraine with tanks.
However, those Leopards are of different models compared to those in German service, which can complicate repairs and maintenance. Therefore, a “homogeneous fleet” of tanks would make more sense, and the Ukrainian personnel would “ideally”undergo training on the same model, the publication writes.
U.S. newspaper Business Insider reported earlier that less than a week before her resignation, former German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht ordered her subordinates not to conduct an inventory of the Leopard 1 and Leopard 2 tanks in service with the Bundeswehr. German sources told BI that the former minister’s decision may have been motivated by a desire to avoid creating additional pressure on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in this matter, as well as not to create additional expectations regarding the transfer of tanks to Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Jan. 19 said that a number of countriesare ready to supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks and are only awaiting German permission. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki did not rule out transferring tanks to Kyiv without waiting for German consent.
A recent meeting of Ukraine’s partner nations at the Ramstein air base in Germany did not result in a decision on the supply of these tanks.
The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) believes that Ukraine needs to receive about 100 tanks to launch a new offensive against Russian forces in the country.