Germany needs more Leopard tanks urgently, says defense minister

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Germany needs to order new Leopard tanks quickly to replace those going to Ukraine, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said on Wednesday, adding he did not care where the money came from.

“For me, the crucial fact is that we have to order new tanks, not in a year, but swiftly, so that production can begin,” he told reporters on a visit to a tank battalion in the western town of Augustdorf, which has been chosen to supply 14 of its Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv.


“Where will the money come from? Let me casually put it like this: Frankly, I don't care. It is essential that we can provide them (the tanks) quickly,” Pistorius said.

The minister was responding to the question of whether he was pushing for an increase in a 100-billion-euro special fund set up for the modernization of the military following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Pistorius said he had held his first talks with defense industry managers on Tuesday but declined to provide details.

“It was about figuring out who can do what - and what do both sides expect from each other,” he said, adding there was an agreement to meet regularly in future.

Pistorius aims to accelerate arms procurement and ramp up ammunitions supplies in the long term after almost a year of arms donations to Ukraine has depleted German military stocks.

Even before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Germany was 20 billion euros short of reaching NATO's target for ammunitions stockpiling.

Asked about calls to reintroduce conscription, which was suspended in 2011 partly to save money, Pistorius said such a move would not plug short-term gaps in the Bundeswehr's manpower.

“The suspension of conscription was a mistake but not one that we can correct swiftly. We have other challenges to master right now, which will cost a lot of money, time and energy - and tackling these is my priority.”

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