May 19. 2024. 1:41

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Sweden considers sending tanks to Ukraine


The Swedish government could soon send Leopard-2 tanks to Ukraine as Defence Minister Pål Jonson announced he was open to the idea on Thursday following political agreement in parliament.

Sending tanks would send a strong signal as a complementary contribution, said the minister, who last week had already made it clear that an 11th military support package is in the works and will be presented soon.

“We are open to it, and we are in close dialogue with Germany in particular,” said Jonson. Germany approved the sending of German-made Leopard tanks last month.

The precise number of tanks that would be sent has so far been made public, though most of the eight parties in parliament have voiced their opinions on how many of the 120 Leopard tanks of the Swedish Defence Force should be sent to Ukraine.

Defence policy spokesman Mikael Oscarsson of the ruling Christian Democrat party believes Sweden should send a “number” of Leopard tanks.

“Tanks are a decisive factor when it comes to ground combat. They have been requested by Ukraine for a long time to be able to carry out offensives and retake ground,” Oscarsson said, adding that Norway is to send eight Leopards to Ukraine.

Prominent Social Democrats also believe it is time to support Ukraine by sending tanks such as former Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist. However, he refused to give a precise number of tanks to be sent, arguing that it remains up to the Swedish Armed Forces to judge.

“If they are added to what other countries are sending in terms of tanks, it will have a clear effect on how to act in the various frontal areas and how the Ukrainian side can fight back against a Russian attack,” Hultqvist said.

The far-right Sweden Democrats, who support the three-party coalition in power (Moderates, Christian Democrats and Liberals), also want to send the Leopard to Ukraine. They even expressed their desire to do so back in January when the party’s foreign policy spokesman Aron Emilsson wrote an article about it.

“There should be a possibility, just like for Finland, Norway, Poland and other countries, to take a small part of our tank fleet and contribute to Ukraine’s fight against Russia,” he said.

The Sweden Democrats have estimated that Sweden should be able to send 14 tanks.

“It is not set in stone, we also want to hear the Swedish Armed Forces’ assessment,” Emilsson said.

He pointed out that tanks are high on Ukraine’s wish list and that Russian elite units are busy in Ukraine and do not pose an immediate military threat to Sweden.

“In light of this, (sending tanks) is something we should be able to do from the Swedish side,” Emilsson added.

(Charles Szumski | EURACTIV.com)