February 21. 2024. 6:38

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German Defence Minister promises Leopard 1 tanks during Kyiv visit

Germany will provide Ukraine with up to 178 Leopard 1 tanks in addition to the already promised Leopard 2 battle tanks, Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said during a surprise visit to Kyiv.

Pistorius arrived in the Ukrainian capital on Tuesday, marking his first major foreign visit since he entered office in mid-January.

As confirmed in a joint statement by his defence ministry and the economy ministry, the Social Democrat used the opportunity to promise additional arms deliveries, namely the shipment of up to 178 Leopard 1 battle tanks by a group of European countries.

How many of these can actually be delivered to Ukraine “depends on the necessary repair works,” according to the ministry statement. “The financing and repair of the tanks as well as the training of the Ukrainian armed forces, are carried out in close coordination with European partner countries,” it added.

The Leopard 1 is a predecessor of the more modern Leopard 2. As both are German-made tanks, Berlin has to give its green light for their shipment even by other partner countries – something it recently did for the Leopard 2 following much debate and deliberation.

Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov thanked Pistorius, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and “the German people” in a Twitter post.

“The ‘first’ Leopard 2 has arrived in Kyiv,” he joked in the post, which included a picture of him and his German counterpart holding a small-scale model of the tank.

During his visit, Pistorius also met with Ukrainian soldiers and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, according to his ministry.

(Julia Dahm | EURACTIV.de)