Rheinmetall ready to supply up to 50 tanks to Ukraine – Newspaper | world news

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BERLIN (Reuters) – Military equipment maker Rheinmetall is set to deliver up to 50 used Leopard 1 battle tanks to Ukraine, the Handelsblatt newspaper reported on Monday, quoting the group’s chief executive.

Rheinmetall could deliver the first tanks in six weeks and the rest over the next three months through its subsidiary Rheinmetall Italia if it gets the green light from the German government, chief executive Armin Papperger told Handelsblatt.

Papperger said Ukrainian soldiers could be trained on the Leopard 1 within days if they are already military qualified.

Some German government politicians have said that it takes too long to train Ukrainians in the use of Western weapons, and that it is better to send equipment that they can operate immediately.

The Handelsblatt reported that politicians in Germany’s coalition government, made up of the Social Democrats, Greens and Free Democrats, were open to a possible delivery of the Leopard tanks, the newspaper reported.

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“You need to be trained a bit more intensively on the Leopard 1. But if the Ukrainians want the tank, a way has to be found,” Marcus Faber, defense policy spokesman for the Free Democrats parliamentary group, told the newspaper. .

Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Monday that Germany’s weapons for Ukraine should be delivered quickly as Russia’s attack from the east is imminent.

“With the decision to support Ukraine with arms, Germany has taken on an obligation,” Habeck said.

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, Germany reversed a long-standing policy of not sending weapons to conflict zones and Berlin supplied kyiv with arms anti-tanks and missiles.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent troops to Ukraine in what he calls a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine. Ukraine and the West say Putin has launched an unprovoked war of aggression.

Rheinmetall’s Leopard 1 main battle tank is a predecessor model to the Leopard 2 currently in service with the German Armed Forces, and the armies that use it have returned it to the supplier when upgrading their equipment, reported the Handelsblatt.

(Reporting by Zuzanna Szymanska; Editing by Gareth Jones and Jane Merriman)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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