Lithuania’s Defence Minister, Arvydas Anušauskas, said today that several nations are expected to announce intent to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. His words come one day before a large meeting to be held at the Ramstein Airbase in Germany, where many NATO members and allies are to meet. Many believe following this meeting will be an announcement of a large arms package to Ukraine, which, according to the Lithuanian Defence Minister, could include the Leopard 2 tanks Ukraine has been requesting.
A number of nations, in particular Poland, Finland, and the Baltic nations, have previously announced wishes to send the tanks to Ukraine. However, the Leopard 2 tanks originate from Germany, who has thus far not granted permission to re-export the tanks.
Germany said they would permit the Leopard 2 tanks to be sent only if the US also sent their Abrams tanks, which the US also has not done. The US argues the Leopard 2 is more widely available in NATO countries, and therefore should be sent instead of the Abrams.
Poland, one of Ukraine’s strongest supporters during the present war, has even suggested that they may send tanks regardless of what Germany says.
« Consent is of secondary importance here, we will either obtain this consent quickly, or we will do what is needed ourselves » – Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki
Officially, however, Poland has said they will only send tanks as apart of a larger coalition.
Whether Arvydas’s words mean that Germany has finally buckled to the re-export requests of her allies, or the US has agreed to send the Abrams tanks, remains to be seen and will likely not be known until the announcement after Friday’s meeting concludes.
Ukraine, who has recently been facing setbacks in the Donbas region, has said they need 300 western tanks, with many experts deeming Ukraine needs at least 100 in order to launch any impactful offensives.