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NATO members unable to agree on Leopard 2 tank deliveries to Ukraine

NATO Defence Ministers participating in a meeting of a contact group at the Ramstein Air Base were unable to agree on German Leopard 2 tank deliveries to Ukraine, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Der Spiegel report, citing Germany’s Defence Minister Boris Pistorius.

Pistorius said that “there’s no shared opinion” on the subject of tank deliveries.

“It’s necessary to thoroughly weigh all [opinions] for and against. A lot of ministers were clear on that. As of now, it’s unclear when the decision will be made and what it will be”, he added.

At the same time, FAZ reports, the minister “made it clear” that Germany is preparing to be able to deliver the Leopard 2 tanks as soon as possible in case of approval.

According to Spiegel, Pistorus said during a press conference that Germany would check its Leopard 2 reserves to ensure a potential delivery of them to Ukraine. “There are valid reasons for a delivery, there are valid reasons against it,” the politician is quoted as saying.

The media outlet reports that “the impression that Germany is blocking the decision is incorrect”. Germany’s Defence Minister ordered his ministry to check the Leopard 2 reserves in the Bundeswehr and the industry in order to be ready for action in case the decision is made, Spiegel adds.

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CNN previously reported, citing sources, that the US and Germany were unable to agree on tank deliveries to Ukraine ahead of the NATO meeting.

Ahead of the meeting between the US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and Pistorius, the US Administration was “very optimistic” that they would make progress on the subject of tank deliveries, however, the question is still unresolved, and it “would be surprising” if Germany changed its stance, despite Austin’s efforts, CNN writes.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, commenting on Germany’s stance, noted that the decision on sending equipment and armaments is a political one. “If you have Leopard tanks, then give them to us. These tanks will not pass through Russia’s territory. We’re defending ourselves. <…> And if there’s no political will on a subject, then there’s no need to look for justifications. One has to say ‘no’ instead of saying that someone else is not ready,” Zelensky stated.

On 12 January, Politico reported, citing sources, that Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz relied on the stance of the US president when it came to the Leopard tank deliveries. Germany produces these tanks, delivering them to Ukraine without Germany’s approval is not allowed. However, Polish President Andrzej Duda has already promised to supply Ukraine with 14 Leopard tanks within the framework of the first aid package of an international coalition.

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