According to a joint statement released on Tuesday, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands will contribute financially to refurbish at least 100 outdated Leopard 1 tanks from industrial stocks and supply them to Ukraine.
The joint statement regarding their plans stated that Ukraine would soon receive at least 100 Leopard 1 A5 tanks as well as logistical assistance, training, spare parts, and ammunition. Dutch Minister of Defense Kasja Ollongren said that despite being an older model, the Leopard 1 was “certainly still suitable” for use in combat.
Talking about the tank to the Dutch national broadcaster NOS, she said, “It’s really a tested tank. They’re being fixed up and made battle-ready, so they will definitely be useful for the Ukrainians, and also better than a number of Russian tanks.”
According to the statement, specifics of the agreement still need to be worked out with the organizations that own the tanks.
According to a statement released by the office of Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov after the counterparts’ meeting, German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius stated that between 20 and 25 of the tanks would arrive by summer, about 80 by the end of the year, and another 100 in 2024. Pistorius arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in an unexpected visit.
Germany’s vice chancellor, Robert Habeck, stated in Washington that even though Ukraine should have the stock of double-digit Leopard 1 tanks available to it in the first quarter, there was no surety as to how many of the 178 tanks Germany had allowed would actually be dispatched.
Robert Habeck met US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. “The numbers are there but they have to be refurbished for battle, re-equipped, so we don’t know exactly how many. But it’s a large number to repel Russia’s spring offensive,” he told reporters after the meeting.
The reporters asked if the decision to send Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine should have been made sooner, as Germany has been under pressure for months, to which Habeck replied,”I hope the decision was reached at the right time.”
Jointly facing the reporters in Kyiv, Pistorius, with Reznikov beside him, pointed out that previously he had seen off Ukrainian troops leave for training in Germany on the more advanced Leopard 2 tanks that Germany had also promised Ukraine.
In a tweet, Reznikov posted a picture of himself with Pistorius, both posing with a scale model Leopard in a display case. The caption of the picture read, “The ‘first’ Leopard 2 has arrived in Kyiv.” Later, the Defense Ministry of Germany tweeted that the real Leopard 2 tanks would arrive in Ukraine by the end of March.
Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands jointly stated that in their decision to provide Leopard 1 tanks other countries could also be partners and that Belgium had shown “initial interest to participate”.
Furthermore, it wasn’t immediately apparent if there would be cost-sharing with the firms. Arms manufacturer Rheinmetall and a firm in northern Germany are the owners of about 180 Leopard 1 tanks in Germany.
The CEO of German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall had stated that the company would supply 20–25 Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine this year and the remaining 88 Leopard 1 tanks the next year.
The action comes after the German government decided last month to deliver more contemporary Leopard 2 battle tanks from army inventories in response to growing international pressure.