Czechia and Slovakia support the supply to Ukraine of German-made Leopard tanks, and are ready to transfer to Kyiv some of the tanks they received from Germany as part of a "chain swap," German new outlet FAZ reported on Jan. 20, citing sources in diplomatic circles.
According to the publication's interlocutors, the swap involved 30 tanks that were bought and put into storage by the industry after being written off from warehouses in Switzerland and Germany.
The journalists note that Bratislava and Prague have already handed over dozens of their own Soviet-designed battle tanks to Kyiv to support the Ukrainian military in the fight against the Russian occupation forces.
As part of the so-called "chain swap," Germany has agreed to replace these tanks in smaller numbers with refurbished Leopard 2A4s, which are not the latest versions.
Reportedly, the first of these tanks were delivered to Czechia and Slovakiain December, and crew training has already begun.
During his visit to Lviv on Jan. 11, Polish President Andrzej Duda announced that Ukraine would receive a company of Leopard tanks as part of an international coalition. Finnish President Sauli Niinistö also confirmed that his country could provide Ukraine with a "small number" of Leopards.
According to Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine plans to first assemble a tank brigade with Leopards.
However, the key role in the supply is assigned to Germany, as it is the country that produces the Leopard and has to consent to their re-export.
Last week, German Vice Chancellor and Minister of Economy Robert Habeck said that Berlin would not interfere if Warsaw decided to transfer combat tanks from its stockpile to Kyiv. Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that Germany would continue to "carefully weigh every step" in supplying the Ukrainian Armed Forces with weapons.
Reuters reported that Germany's partners had ramped up pressure on Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Davos to allow the delivery of Leopard tanks to Ukraine.
On Jan. 18, German media reported that Scholz told U.S. President Joe Biden that he would approve the transfer of German Leopard tanks to Ukraine if the United States supplied Ukraine with U.S. Abrams tanks.
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius later clarified that this condition was not mandatory.