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Germany approves delivery of 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine

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Berlin provides a company of 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks from Bundeswehr stocks.

Berlin:

Berlin on Wednesday approved the delivery of powerful German-made Leopard tanks to help Ukraine repel Russian invasion after weeks of pressure from Kyiv and many allies.

Germany will provide a company of 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks from Bundeswehr stocks, government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said in a statement.

It also gave authorization to other European countries to send tanks from their own stocks to Ukraine, with the goal of quickly “assembling two tank battalions of Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine,” he said.

While numerous nations have pledged military hardware for Ukraine, Kyiv has clamored for the more sophisticated Leopard tanks, seen as key to breaching enemy lines.

The package agreed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz also provides for the training of the Ukrainian armed forces to use the tanks in Germany, as well as logistics, ammunition and maintenance of the main battle tanks.

Scholz, who has faced fierce allegations over whether to send the tanks, will be answering questions in the Bundestag from 1pm (1200 GMT).

Several other European countries, including Finland and Poland, have agreed to donate their stocks.

The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, has reported that Washington is tending to send significant numbers of Abrams M1 tanks to Ukraine.

The Kremlin warned Wednesday that if Western countries supply heavy tanks to Ukraine, they will destroy them on the battlefield.

– Excerpt from Soledar –

“These tanks burn like any other. They’re just very expensive,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

The Kremlin’s warning came as a Moscow-backed official said Russian troops had advanced in Bakhmut, a city in eastern Ukraine that Russia has been trying to capture for months.

The Ukrainian military also admitted to AFP that its troops had withdrawn from battle-hardened Soledar, northeast of Bakhmut.

Russian forces claimed control of Soledar earlier this month.

And Denis Pushilin, Moscow’s top official in charge of Donetsk, said its capture had “now made it possible to block enemy supply routes and take partial operational control of areas” from which Ukrainians were attacking Russian positions.

Amid fierce fighting in eastern Ukraine, Kyiv and several of its allies have been urging Germany to allow delivery of the Leopards for weeks, but a US-led meeting of Kiev’s allies in Germany last week yielded no decision.

– “Obvious Provocation” –

Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki accused the Germans of “swearing, wavering and behavior that is difficult to understand” on Tuesday.

However, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said he had “strongly encouraged partner countries that have operational Leopard tanks to train Ukrainian armed forces on these tanks”.

Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, responded to reports of Washington possibly sending main battle tanks by saying such a move would reveal “the real aggressor in the current conflict.”

“If the United States decides to supply tanks, it will be impossible to justify such a move with ‘defense weapons’ arguments,” he said, according to a post on the Russian embassy’s official Facebook page.

“That would be another blatant provocation against the Russian Federation.”

Under the Berlin War Weapons Control Rules, countries that use German-made weapons are required to obtain Berlin’s permission if they intend to pass them on to third parties.

– corruption scandal –

In another show of international support for Ukraine, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he was considering visiting Ukraine following an invitation from Zelenskyy.

“I will consider this in light of various circumstances and conditions,” said Kushida, whose country is hosting this year’s G7 meeting.

At home, however, Zelensky is grappling with a widening corruption scandal — his Defense Department is rocked by allegations of food-sourcing fraud.

Local media reports last week accused the ministry of signing a deal at prices “two to three times higher” than current tariffs for basic necessities.

Several officials have resigned over the allegations, including an assistant secretary of defense, two assistant ministers for community and territory development, and an assistant minister for social policy.

Ukraine has a history of endemic corruption, including among the political elite, but efforts to eradicate bribery have been overshadowed by war.

(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by TOI.News staff and was published by a syndicated feed.)

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