Germany lifts its objection on sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine

Ukraine came a step closer on Tuesday to securing a fleet of modern battle tanks, after the West’s big holdout Germany said this would be the first item on its new defence minister’s agenda.

Kyiv hopes German-made Leopard battle tanks, a workhorse of armies across Europe, could turn the course of the war against Russia. 

There have been loud calls for German to supply the tanks, especially after the UK pledged to give Ukraine 12 of its Challenger tanks. 

But Berlin has been reluctant to cave into Kyiv’s demands, fearing an escalation of the conflict with Russia. The Leopards can only be delivered with Berlin’s approval. 

Germany lifting its objections could be one of the most consequential shifts in western aid so far. 

The decision sits on the desk of Germany’s new Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, named on Tuesday to replace Christine Lambrecht, who quit after missteps including a cheerful New Year’s message about the war that opponents called tone deaf.

In his first comments in the job, Pistorius, a regional politician with close ties to Chancellor Olaf Scholz, made no mention of weapons for Ukraine:

“I know the importance of the task,” he said in a statement. “It is important to me to involve the soldiers closely and to take them with me.”

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