The Dutch Minister of Defense, Kajsa Ollongren, has expressed openness to funding the shipment of German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine as part of a coalition effort led by European and NATO allies.
The Netherlands has previously contributed to the provision of Soviet-era T-72 tanks from the Czech Republic to Kyiv, and the same approach could be applied to the Leopard tanks, Ollongren said in an interview with Bloomberg News. Furthermore, Poland and Finland have also announced their willingness to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine as part of the coalition, however, such actions would need authorization from Berlin.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has reportedly been in talks with allies over the potential supply of the vehicles, and has expressed desire for the US to send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. Ollongren stated, “We are all waiting to hear what the German position is on this, but I’m an advocate to trying to find a solution and trying to send tanks to Ukraine”.
In addition to tanks, the coalition would also require partners to provide ammunition, training, and other support capabilities. Defense ministers from several allied nations will gather at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday to discuss Ukraine’s military needs. Ollongren stated, it is "a very important meeting”.
The Leopard 2 is a main battle tank developed by the German company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. It is one of the most advanced tanks in the world and is currently in service with several countries, including Germany, Canada, and the Netherlands.
The tank was first introduced in 1979 and has undergone several upgrades throughout its service life. The Leopard 2 is equipped with a 120mm smoothbore gun, a 7.62mm machine gun, and a 12.7mm machine gun. It also has advanced features such as a digital fire control system, thermal imaging, and a computerized ballistic protection system. The tank can reach a top speed of 72km/h. It has a crew of four and weighs around 62 tons.