Western leaders and diplomats have praised the decision made by Germany on Jan. 24 to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
“The right decision by NATO allies and friends to send main battle tanks to Ukraine,” UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted on Jan. 25.
“Alongside Challenger 2s (tanks), they will strengthen Ukraine’s defensive firepower. Together, we are accelerating our efforts to ensure Ukraine wins this war and secures a lasting peace,” Sunak said.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki thanked German Chancellor OlafScholz for the decision.
“The decision to send Leopards to Ukraine is a big step towards stopping Russia. Together we are stronger,” Morawiecki tweeted.
The press service of the Elysée Palace said that France welcomes Germany’s decision, which continues and increases the support that France has started with the supply of the AMX-10 RC armoured fighting vehicles.
Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis reacted to Germany’s decision with a picture of the Ukrainian flag, adding “Tanke schön,” a pun on the German phrase “Danke schön,” which translates as “Thank you very much.”
Germany approved the transfer of 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and their re-export from partner countries on Jan. 25.
Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine: what is known
At the “Ramstein format” summit on Jan. 20, Ukraine’s military allies failed to agree to supply Leopards to Ukraine, with the German government in particular foot-dragging on taking a decision.
Some of Ukraine’s partner states had expressed their readiness to provide Ukraine with German-made Leopard tanks but were waiting for Berlin’s permission to re-export the tanks.
Following the summit, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said that countries have achieved “a positive breakthrough” regarding the Leopard-2 tanks. He explained that the meeting participants agreed that countries with Leopard 2s in service could begin training Ukrainian tank crews.
Prior to that, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said several countries (Poland, Finland, Spain, Portugal, etc.) were ready to supply Ukraine with Leopard 2s, and were only waiting for Germany’s permission for their re-export.
Following numerous Ukrainian requests, Poland has decided to transfer German-made Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine, Polish President Andrzej Duda said during his visit to Lviv, Ukraine, on Jan. 11, where he met with his Ukrainian and Lithuanian counterparts, Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Gitanas Nauseda.
In turn, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Warsaw would build a “smaller coalition” of the countries ready to supply Ukraine with some of their stocks of Leopard 2 battle tanks without Germany’s consent, if it wasn’t provided.
Meanwhile, according to U.S. newspaper the Wall Street Journal, the Biden administration is leaning toward sending a significant number of Abrams M1 tanks to Ukraine and an announcement of the deliveries could come this week.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has promised to provide Ukraine with 14 Challenger 2 tanks, making the United Kingdom the first Western country to supply the heavy tanks that Kyiv has long been pleading for.