Refurbished German Leopard tanks for Ukraine ready by 2024 at the earliest, arms maker says

BERLIN (Reuters) – German arms maker Rheinmetall could deliver refurbished Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine as early as 2024, its chief executive was quoted as saying by Bild newspaper on Sunday.

Germany announced earlier this month that it would provide Ukraine with Marder infantry fighting vehicles to help repel Russian forces. But Kyiv has also asked for heavier vehicles such as Leopards, which would represent a significant step in Western support for Ukraine.

Repairing the tanks it has in stock will cost several hundred million euros and the company cannot start doing so before the order is confirmed, Paperger told Bild.

“The vehicles must be completely dismantled and rebuilt,” he added.

Germany has become one of Ukraine’s biggest military backers in response to Russia’s invasion since last year, overcoming a taboo rooted in its bloody 20th-century history about sending weapons to conflict zones.

Still, critics say German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his ruling SDDP are too slow, waiting for allies to act first, instead of taking Germany’s responsibility as the Western power closest to Ukraine.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck said earlier this month that delivery of the heavier Leopard tanks could not be “ruled out”.

(Reporting by Victoria Waldersee; Editing by Frances Carey)

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