German company will be unable to supply Ukraine with Leopard tanks until next year

15 January, 06:08 PM
Leopard 2 tank (Photo:Vestman/flickr)

Leopard 2 tank (Photo:Vestman/flickr)

German defense firm Rheinmetall will be unable to supply Ukraine with modern Leopard-2 battle tanks until next year, Rheinmetall CEO Armin Papperger said in an interview with German newspaper Bild on Jan. 15.

Repair and refurbishment of the Leopards in question will take several months and will cost several hundred million dollars, which the company cannot allocate until a contract will be signed, he explained, while readying mothballed tanks will take at least a year.

"The vehicles will not only be repainted, but will have to be rebuilt for wartime use,” Papperger told Bild.

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“They will be completely taken apart and then rebuilt. Even if the decision to send our Leopard tanks to Kyiv came tomorrow, it would take until the beginning of next year to deliver the tanks.”

Papperger noted that Leopard 2 tanks are "enormously important" for offensives and reclaiming territory. With the help of these tanks, Ukrainian troops will be able to break through the enemy defense lines and bring the war of position to an end, he said.

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda said during his visit to Lviv on Jan. 11 that his country will supply Ukraine with a company of Leopard 2 tanks. Finnish President Sauli Niinistö also indicated willingness to supply a small number of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

However, Germany’s acquiescence will be necessary for these deliveries, as it has final say over the re-export of German-made arms.

Rheinmetall currently stores 22 Leopard 2 and 88 Leopard 1 tanks. German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck said a week prior that Berlin will not stand in the way if Warsaw decides to send their own Leopard 2 battle tanks to Kyiv, though German Chancellor Olaf Scholz claimed his country will continue to “weigh every step carefully” on further weapons supply to Ukraine.

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