Three tank battalions as a gift: Defense Minister Pistorius on a visit to Kyiv

In principle, the federal government already gave the green light on Friday for the export of older Leopard 1 tanks from industrial stocks to the Ukraine – around ten months after Flensburger Fahrzeugbau GmbH and Rheinmetall as manufacturers had applied for this.

A surprise visit by Defense Minister Boris Pistorius to Kyiv on Tuesday was used to give specific figures. Together with his Dutch and Danish counterparts, he pledged “more than 100” Type 1A5s within a year, which corresponds to three battalions.

As the Federal Ministry of Economics, as the formally responsible licensing authority, announced on Tuesday evening, export licenses were issued “for up to 178 Leopard 1 main battle tanks”. How many of these are actually delivered to Ukraine depends “on the necessary repair work”.

Rheinmetall is delivering up to 25 units this year

Rheinmetall CEO Armin Papperger said at a simultaneous event organized by Tagesspiegel, Handelsblatt, Zeit and Wirtschaftswoche in Berlin that he “assumes that 20 to 25 units will come this year”. The rest of the 88 Leopard 1 in his group’s yard, which were retired by the Bundeswehr, among others, would be ready for use in the course of 2024.

“It’s great that the tank coalition was formed in the last few weeks,” said Ukraine’s Berlin Ambassador to Berlin, Oleksii Makeiev, at the same event. In order to fend off Russia’s expected spring offensive on a front length of at least 1700 kilometers, his country is “depending on Western weapon systems”.

The first has arrived.

Oleksiy Reznikov, Defense Minister of Ukraine, at the handover of a Leopard 2 model by his German counterpart Boris Pistorius

The SPD politician Pistorius had previously presented the miniature model of a modern Leopard 2 tank to the Ukrainian Defense Minister in Kyiv. “The first one has arrived,” wrote Oleksiy Resnikov under the corresponding photo on Twitter: “More will follow. Thanks”.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) announced two weeks ago that Germany would, as a first step, hand over 14 Leopard 2 to Ukraine as part of an internationally coordinated approach.

As with the modern variant of the main battle tank, it is also part of the older models that the allies of Ukraine also train their tank crews on the new device and also supply ammunition and spare parts; so it emerges from the statement of the three defense ministers.

Higher defense spending called for

Not only the Estonian Secretary of Defense Kusti Salm, who tuned in from Tallinn to the “Europe 2023” conference of the Tagesspiegel and other newspaper companies, is concerned that the supply of ammunition could run out over time.

“We have to think long-term and start building factories and producing ammunition,” he said. For this reason, his country is “putting pressure” on the next NATO summit in the summer to increase its own target of spending two percent of economic output on armaments every year.

Germany recently spent 1.5 percent of its budget on this, Chancellor Scholz wants to achieve the two percent target on average during the legislative period. Outside the regular budget, a special fund of 100 billion euros was created to modernize the Bundeswehr.

Of course, Rheinmetall boss Papperger answered a question from Tagesspiegel publisher Stephan-Andreas Casdorff as to whether this amount would be enough with a clear “no”: “We invest too little in Europe – only a fraction of what the Americans put into their security .” At the moment Germany and Europe are “not defensible” despite a war raging on the continent, for which supplies have to be organized.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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