Germany’s Leopard 2 tanks ‘critical to victory’, says Ukrainian MP

German consortium Rheinmetall’s new Leopard 2 A7 tank

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Ukraine is set to receive German-made main battle tanks from Berlin in what could prove “critical to Ukrainian victory” against Russia. Reports emerged on Tuesday night that Mr Scholz would be announcing Germany’s intentions to send a company of the Leopard 2 tanks on Wednesday during an address to Parliament. The information was leaked by officials with knowledge of the proposed new tranche of military support. Ukrainian MP Kira Rudik told that Ukraine “needs these tanks badly” and that she has “not heard of any war that was not won without tanks”.

Speaking from Kyiv, Ms Rudik said: “It would not be an exaggeration to say [Leopard 2 tanks] are critical to Ukrainian victory. We need them and we need them badly.

“We have been adamant with our partners to say, ‘We are absolutely sure that this is what we need’.”

Germany has come under increasing pressure from fellow NATO members and other Western supporters of Kyiv to supply the tanks.

Berlin holds a licence arrangement on the vehicles that precludes other countries sending their own iterations of the tanks to a war zone without express permission from Germany.

Earlier today, a high-ranking Ukrainian official said in an interview with ABC News that twelve countries present at the Contact Group on Defense of Ukraine at the Ramstein Air Base on January 20 had agreed to send their Leopard 2 tanks to the conflict zone if Germany agreed to the move.

The meeting of Kyiv’s military backers last Friday had been earmarked as the moment Germany would pledge to send, or at least allow others to send, the tanks.

After no decision was made, Poland threatened to go ahead and send its tanks to Ukraine without permission.

It is believed Britain had promised to send a company of its Challenger 2 tanks a week prior to the Ramstein meeting in part to put pressure on Berlin to release the Leopard 2s.

After Warsaw issued various rebukes against the German government for their hesitancy in the days succeeding Ramstein, they formally requested permission from Berlin to allow them to send their versions of the tanks on Tuesday morning.

Boris Pistorius, Germany’s new defence minister, said afterwards he expected Germany to react quickly to the request.

Ukraine and NATO member states in possession of the Leopard 2 tanks now await the announcement from German Chancellor Scholz on Wednesday.

But Ms Rudik said that while Ukraine was “grateful” for all the backing of Kyiv since the beginning of Russia’s invasion last February, there was a “big difference” between immediate support and delays.

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She said: “Last week, European Council chief Charles Michel spoke to us in Parliament and spoke about how the European Union, at the start of the war, in just three days decided to give Ukraine weapons.

“At that point, one of my colleagues turned to me and said, ‘I remember those three days. I was sitting in the basement of my house on the outskirts of Kyiv being constantly bombed.’

“So, maybe for many people, it does not seem like a big difference if we receive tanks a month from now or tomorrow. But for us there is a big difference.”

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