Germany has approved sending 178 of its Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine, a report says, almost two weeks after Berlin agreed to send several of its state-of-the-art Leopard 2 tanks to the ex-Soviet republic following intense pressure from allies.
In a report on Tuesday, German news website Spiegel Online said that the German government's security council had approved delivering 178 Leopard 1 tanks to Kiev from industry stocks.
The number of such tanks to be sent to Ukraine is considerably more than previously announced.
According to the report, some of the tanks would be sent in the summer, but the bulk of the Leopard 1s would be shipped in 2024.
Last month, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, amid mounting international pressure, announced that Berlin would initially send a company of 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, adding that Ukrainian crews would soon begin training on them in Germany. The German leader further said that Berlin would also authorize other countries that have their own stocks of Leopard 2 tanks to export them to Ukraine.
Days after Scholz's decision, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a fiery speech that Russia would definitely defeat Ukraine, which he said is in the grip of a new incarnation of Nazism, just as it defeated Nazi Germany in Stalingrad 80 year ago.
"Again and again we have to repel the aggression of the collective West. It's incredible but it's a fact: we are again being threatened with German Leopard tanks with crosses on them," Putin said.
Russia launched what it calls "a special military operation" in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, over the perceived threat of the ex-Soviet republic joining NATO. Since then, the United States and Ukraine's other allies have sent Kiev tens of billions of dollars' worth of weapons, including rocket systems, drones, armored vehicles, tanks, and communication systems.
Western countries have also imposed a slew of economic sanctions on Moscow. The Kremlin has said the sanctions and the Western military assistance will only prolong the war.
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