Germany delivers first Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine after two months

Scholz is asked on whether he will send Leopard tanks to Ukraine

Germany has delivered 18 Leopard II tanks to Ukraine after making the pledge two months ago. German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said he was sure the tanks would “make a decisive contribution” on the frontlines of the raging war.

He said the tanks “have made it into the hands of our Ukrainian friends as promised and on time”.

Poland, Canada, Norway and Portugal have also delivered the Leopard tanks.

Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Twitter that the first British Challenger 2 battle tanks had arrived, too.

He said: “These fantastic machines will soon begin their combat missions.”

From Washington to Berlin to Kyiv, a Western decision to send battle tanks to Ukraine was hailed enthusiastically in January.

The Kremlin has previously warned that Western tank deliveries would be a dangerous escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, and it has strongly denounced the watershed move by Germany and the United States to send heavy weaponry to its foe.

But it insisted the new armour would not stop Russia from achieving its goals in Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “The potential it gives to the Ukrainian armed forces is clearly exaggerated.

“Those tanks will burn just like any others.”

Moscow played down the move right after the announcement in an apparent attempt to save face as the West raised the stakes in Ukraine.

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Some Russian experts also emphasised that the supply of the deadly armour will be relatively limited and could take months to reach the front.

Russia is now stepping up its own production of war materiel. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited factories in the Chelyabinsk and Kirov regions producing artillery rounds and rockets, Russia’s Defence Ministry said, adding that the plants will increase the output of certain items by seven or eight times later this year.

Russia has kept up its long-range bombardment of Ukraine areas, but its nighttime attacks with Iranian-made Shahed exploding drones are causing little damage.

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The Ukrainian military downed 14 of the 15 Shahed drones Russia fired late on Monday, the General Staff of the Ukrainian armed forces said.

The Kyiv regional military administration said that wreckage from a downed drone hit an administrative building in the Sviatoshynskyi District in western part of the capital, causing a fire. There were no casualties.

The Dnipropetrovsk regional governor, Serhii Lysak, said the Ukrainian military shot down two drones overnight, but another one hit a privately-owned industrial facility in the city of Dnipro and caused a fire that took hours to extinguish.

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