Finland sends three more mine-clearing Leopard tanks to Ukraine

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Finland’s defense minister said Thursday that the Nordic country was sending three modified Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, in addition to three previously sent.

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“Finland is delivering three Leopard 2 armored mine-clearing vehicles,” defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen told reporters in Helsinki.

The vehicles, equipped with machine guns instead of the traditional cannon, are designed for neutralizing mines and other explosives.

In February, Finland announced it was sending three of the mine-clearing Leopards to Ukraine.

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said this month that she was also open to discussing supplying Ukraine with Finland’s F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets, in response to calls by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky for modern combat jets from Western allies.

Finland is due to replace its Hornets with more advanced F-35A jets from US contractor Lockheed Martin from 2025 onward.

Kaikkonen confirmed Thursday that Ukraine had “asked for discussions on the F/A-18 Hornets, to see if they could be made available to Ukraine”.

But he said “this is not an acute topic of discussion. We will need these Hornets in the next few years for our own purposes”.

Several other countries, including Norway, Poland, Germany, Sweden, Spain and Canada, have also delivered or promised the German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

Berlin had initially resisted pressure from allies to authorize the deliveries, on worries it would be seen as a co-belligerent in the Ukraine war by Moscow.

But it relented in January, saying it would send 14 Leopard tanks in order to assemble, together with allies, two tank battalions for Ukraine.

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