Germany will send Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine and approve re-export of the same kind of tanks from partner countries, according to a statement issued Wednesday.
"This decision follows our well-known line of supporting Ukraine to the best of our ability. We are acting in a closely coordinated and concerted manner internationally," German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in Berlin.
Germany said it would initially provide 14 Leopard 2 tanks from its military stocks, with the goal of establishing two battalions, and provide ammunition and logistics. It said training for Ukrainian troops would begin soon in Germany, and that other European partners would be permitted to deliver tanks from their stocks to Ukraine, for which they had been awaiting approval from Germany as the manufacturing nation.
The United States is also poised to send battle tanks to Ukraine. After months of insisting that its M-1 Abrams were too complex to maintain and operate, Washington is now expected to start delivering the top-of-the-line tanks to Ukrainian troops, giving them new battlefield capabilities against dug-in Russian forces.
U.S. officials said it would likely be many months before the American tanks arrive in Ukraine, however, as Ukrainian forces still need to be trained.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists Wednesday that sending Western tanks to Ukraine was a "failed plan" and an "overestimation of the potential that this will add to the Ukrainian army."
"These tanks will burn like all the rest," he declared.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday that, even if Ukraine's Western partners provide fewer tanks than Russia has on the battlefield, the support would boost his forces' morale.
"They do only one very important thing — they motivate our soldiers to fight for their own values, because they show that the whole world is with you," Zelenskyy told Germany's ARD television network.