Fri, 02 Jun 2023

Britain and Germany have delivered tanks they promised to Ukraine, which is expected to use them in possible spring counter-offensives against Russian forces.

Ukraine on Monday received 18 German Leopard tanks and 14 British Challenger tanks - weapons that Ukraine had long been pressing the West to deliver to help in its fight against Russia's invasion.

Ukraine's Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said Monday he inspected a "new addition" to the country's forces.

"I'm sure that they can make a decisive contribution on the front," German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said on Twitter about the Leopards, which are among the world's most advanced tanks and used by militaries across Europe.

Germany in January approved sending its own tanks as well as those held by other European countries, though it has struggled to source enough of them.

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The 18 delivered were four more than initially planned, according to Pistorius. Three Leopards donated by Portugal also reportedly reached Ukraine on Monday.

Germany also delivered 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles and two armoured recovery vehicles.

The advanced A6 variant of the Leopard 2 has been specifically designed to fight Russia's main battle tank.

Ukrainian soldiers were trained in Britain and Germany on the use of their vehicles.

The British military said Ukrainian crews learned how to command, drive and "effectively identify and engage targets", said Ministry of Defence said in a statement, calling it a "step change" in capability for Ukraine's armed forces.

EU says it will train double the number of Ukrainian soldiers

When it approved sending the Leopards, Germany insisted that the United States also send its own tanks.

The US said it would send advanced Abrams tanks. Last week the Pentagon said they would be delivered faster than anticipated, as early as this autumn, while Patriot air defenses will also arrive on an "expedited timeline".

(with newswires)

Originally published on RFI

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