The CEO of Rheinmetall, Armin Papperger, told the Handelsblatt in an exclusive interview that “The first Leopard 1 could be delivered in six weeks.” Papperger noted that the German Federal government should authorise such supply. He added that the technical condition of the tanks is currently being checked.
On Monday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock stressed on the sidelines of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg that Ukraine needed more military material - including heavy weapons. “Now is no time for excuses, now is the time for creativity and pragmatism,” emphasised Baerbock.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany has reversed a long-standing policy of not sending weapons to conflict zones. Since then, Berlin has supplied Kyiv with anti-tank weapons and missiles.
Germany has approximately 100 units of decommissioned Leopard 1A5s. They are the predecessor of the Leopard 2 currently used by the Bundeswehr. Rheinmetall could be delivering the first Leopard tanks to Ukraine in six weeks. The subsidiary Rheinmetall Italia may transfer the tanks. The whole batch would then be delivered to Ukraine within three months.
Rheinmetall also offered Marder tracked infantry fighting vehicles.
This comes as Russia's military prepares to launch a reinvigorated offensive to secure various objectives in and around Ukraine's eastern Donbas region.
Maxar Technologies, a commercial satellite imagery provider, released images over the weekend showing Russian armoured vehicles, artillery, and trucks stretching along an eight-mile stretch of road to the east of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.
The convoy, which could number in the hundreds, appeared to be heading south toward the front lines.