Germany will supply Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, overcoming misgivings about sending heavy weaponry that Kyiv sees as crucial to defeating Russian invasion, but Moscow cast as a needless provocation, it announced on Wednesday.
Pressure is building for weeks on Olaf Scholz's government to send the tanks and allow other Nato allies to do the same before expected spring offensives by both sides that could help turn the tide of the war.
Scholz's government had stalled on the decision, wary of moves that could cause Russia to escalate or suck the NATO alliance into becoming a party to the conflict.
Germany s decision paves the way for other countries such as Poland, Spain and Norway to supply their Leopard tanks to Ukraine.
This decision follows our well-known line of support for Ukraine to the best of our ability. Scholz said in a statement that they are acting in a closely coordinated manner internationally.
The goal was to establish two battalions with Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine, and Germany would in a first step provide 14 Leopard 2 tanks from military stocks, according to the statement.
Germany will provide logistics and ammunition for Ukrainian troops in Germany, and the training of Ukrainian troops will begin soon.
Germany will issue the appropriate transfer permits to partner countries that want to quickly deliver Leopard 2 tanks from their stocks to Ukraine, it said.