With Ukraine pressing for a beefed-up capacity to repel Russian forces, so far six European countries have given the green light to support Ukraine with Leopard 2 battle tanks.
On early Wednesday, Germany – where the tanks are made – announced that it will deliver 14 Leopard 2A6 battle tanks to Ukraine. Government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit also said Berlin will also allow its allies to send Leopard tanks to Kyiv.
Following the decision, which was welcomed by European countries, the focus now falls on countries that already voiced their intention to send Leapord 2 tanks to Ukraine, despite warnings by Russia.
Along with Berlin, Norway, Spain, Finland, the Netherlands, and Poland also announced that they would support Kyiv by sending the German-made tanks.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who praised Germany’s decision, has been a leading European figure urging Germany to allow third countries to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
Poland has reportedly asked for an export license for 14 Leopard 2 tanks.
Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles on Wednesday announced that Spain is willing to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine and train them in their use, but always in coordination with the allies.
Robles told Spanish news agency EFE earlier that Madrid is waiting for Germany, publicly and officially, to allow other countries to do so.
Netherlands, Finland, and Russian warnings
The Netherlands is also considering delivering Leopard 2 tanks although the Cabinet has not made any decision yet.
The Netherlands does not own any tanks but is leasing 18 Leopard 2 tanks from Germany, according to local NL Times.
In early January, Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto said that his country could scale up its military assistance to Ukraine by sending Leopard 2 battle tanks.
The country’s foreign minister also said last week that they are prepared to send the tanks to Ukraine in support of the fight against Russia.
The Norwegian government is also considering delivering eight of its 36 Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine, but no decision has been made yet, Norwegian daily DN said on Tuesday.
Germany’s green light is expected to accelerate allies’ tank support for Ukraine. Russia, however, continues to warn the move would constitute an escalation in the war.
“This extremely dangerous decision takes the conflict to a new level of confrontation,” Sergei Nechayev, Russia’s ambassador to Germany, said in a statement following the announcement by Berlin.
But amid fears that Russia may mount a stronger offensive this spring, Western allies seem to be betting that the tanks may be just what Ukraine needs to defend itself.