By Anthony Marcus, for Eurasia Business News, February 8, 2023

The Leopard 1 is a heavy battle tank designed by Porsche and manufactured by Krauss-Maffei in West Germany, which entered service for the first time in 1965 in the German army. It was withdrawn from service in 2003, replaced by the Leopard 2.

The German government finally accepted the decision to supply Ukraine with 178 Leopard 1A5 tanks. As stated in a statement on the German Defense Ministry website, the government approved the delivery last week, but it was necessary to complete the formal approval steps before announcing it.

The German Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Protection has issued export licences to German companies for up to 178 Leopard 1A5 main battle tanks, which were in service with the German army between 1965 and 2003. The actual number of tanks Ukraine will receive will depend on the results of tank repairs, the report said. The financing, refurbishment of the stockpiled Leopard 1A5s and training of the Ukrainian army in the use of these heavy tanks will be carried out in coordination with Germany’s European partners.

In another message, the German Defense Ministry talks about the agreement, according to which DenmarkGermany and the Netherlands should jointly send Ukraine at least 100 repaired Leopard 1A5 main battle tanks. The first deliveries are expected within a few months. In addition, the countries mentioned will send sets of spare parts and ammunition to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

On February 7, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius arrived in Kiev on an official visit. During the visit, he said he had agreed with several countries to supply an additional 20 to 25 Leopard 1A5s by the summer, and that up to 80 tanks are expected to be sent by the end of the year. By 2024, it is expected to deliver more than 100 tanks, the minister said.

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Business Insider reported earlier on February 7, that Rheinmetall will send 88 Leopard 1 tanks to Kiev, and Flensburger Fahrzeugbau Gesellschaft (FFG) will ship 99 tanks. Rheinmetall CEO Armin Papperger said the company plans to supply Ukraine with 20-25 Leopard 1 tanks by the end of 2023. The other 88, Papperger said, will be sent in 2024. According to a source in the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Rheinmetall and FFG are ready to repair dozens of Leopard 1 tanks if Ukraine agrees to buy them for 100 million euros.

The German newspaper Spiegel reported on January 24 that the government of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had agreed to send at least one company of Leopard 2A6 tanks to the Ukrainian armed forces. A company consists of three platoons of tanks. Each platoon consists of three tanks, as well as a control tank. On January 25, the German government officially confirmed the dispatch of 14 Leopard 2 heavy tanks to Ukraine. The same day, U.S. President Joe Biden said during a special speech to the press that the United States will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks and 8 M88 armored recovery vehicles to the Ukrainian armed forces to service these tanks.

Berlin has long hesitated to send heavy tanks to Ukraine, because of the high symbolic charge and the risk of escalation. Kiev has been requesting it since March 2022.

However, some argue in Berlin and Paris that sending heavy weapons to Ukraine will stabilize the front in a way that is favorable to Kiev, which can then consider negotiations with Moscow under better conditions. After nearly a year of war, nothing is certain about its duration.

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