Denmark and the Netherlands have purchased 14 Leopard 2 tanks from German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall for Ukraine, German newspaper Handelsblatt stated on Thursday, days after Moscow reportedly destroyed a dozen of Kyiv’s tanks during the first week of the counter-offensive.
The two countries have already signed the contracts for the delivery of the 14 Leopards, Handelsblatt reported, citing NATO officials. The German government, which must approve any export of military equipment, was also involved.
The report added that the first delivery of the tanks is expected in January 2024.
Earlier this week, Ukraine had requested more Leopard tanks from Germany to help its ground forces in the counter-offensive battles against Russian forces, after Moscow said it had destroyed at least a dozen of Kyiv’s tanks while foiling Ukrainian attacks across multiple fronts. Ukrainian military did not disclose the extent of its losses.
Denmark and the Netherlands had jointly pledged in April to donate 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. The delivery was expected in the first quarter of 2024. The cost was estimated to be €165 million ($180.6 million).
The Danish and Dutch statement had stressed the important role the Leopards, considered to be among the best in Western arsenals, in helping Ukraine’s offensive capabilities. “Having the Leopard 2 A4 main battle tank at its disposal will give Ukraine superiority on the battlefield, due to the tank’s major fire power, high level of protection and speed,” the Dutch defense ministry said at the time of the announcement.
The purchase comes at a time of intense clashes between Ukraine and Russia’s forces across wide-spread multiple battlefronts, with Kyiv reporting a slow-but-steady advancement especially in the southern and eastern regions. A week into the highly anticipated counter-offensive to reclaim Russian-occupied territories, Kyiv announced that its forces have “liberated” at least half a dozen villages and inched closer to flashpoint cities such as Bakhmut.