Western Allies Pledge Leopard 1 Tanks to Ukraine

February 7, 2023

Three Western nations—Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands—announced Tuesday they plan to give Ukraine at least 100 refurbished Leopard 1 tanks as it battles Russian aggression.

The announcement follows a pledge last month by Germany to send its more modern Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and to allow other nations to deliver them as well. As the Leopards are made in Germany, Berlin must approve their export from one country to another.

The defense ministers of Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands said in a joint statement that pledging the older Leopard 1 tanks—which would occur “within the coming months”—was part of an effort “to support Ukraine in their endeavor to withstand Russian aggression.”

The three countries that made the pledge said Belgium has also shown interest in participating in the tanks-to-Ukraine initiative.

German authorities have authorized the export of up to 178 Leopard 1 A5 tanks to Ukraine. However, Germany’s defense ministry noted that the actual number sent would depend on the refurbishments required. The Leopard 1 tanks were manufactured between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s.

The U.S., meanwhile, has pledged to send more than two dozen M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, although it’s expected that these may not be field ready for up to a year.

The pledges come as Ukraine says it’s bracing for a new offensive from Russia. Ukraine’s defense minister has claimed some 500,000 Russian troops are amassed on its eastern border. Russia may push to recapture Ukrainian territory in the south and east, such as Kherson and Kharkiv, which it lost in a late summer counteroffensive.

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