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German Scholz will unveil his Ukrainian tank plan in parliament

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BERLIN — After weeks of hesitation that saw growing impatience from Germany’s allies, Chancellor Olaf Scholz was due to announce on Wednesday that his government would approve the supply of German-made battle tanks to Ukraine.

The long-awaited move came after US officials said a preliminary deal had been reached for the US to send M1 Abrams tanks to help Kyiv push back entrenched Russian forces in the east nearly a year old. since the start of the war.

Scholz had insisted that any move to supply Ukraine with powerful Leopard 2 tanks would have to be closely coordinated with Germany’s allies, primarily the United States. By forcing Washington to commit some of its own tanks, Berlin hopes to avert the risk of a violent reaction from Russia.

Members of Scholz’s three-party coalition government welcomed the news ahead of the official announcement, expected in a speech to parliament earlier this afternoon.

“Leopard is released!” said German MP Katrin Goering-Eckardt, a Green Party MP.

Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party who chairs the parliamentary defense committee, said the news was “a relief for an abused and courageous Ukraine”.

“The decision to approve (requests from other countries) and supply the Leopard 2 was difficult, but inevitable,” she said.

Strack-Zimmermann had been one of the loudest voices calling for a quick decision on arms deliveries to Ukraine.

However, two small opposition parties criticized this decision.

The far-right Alternative for Germany called the decision “irresponsible and dangerous”.

“Germany risks being drawn directly into the war,” said its co-leader, Tino Chrupalla. The party, known by its acronym AfD, has friendly ties with Russia.

The Left Party, which also has historic ties to Moscow, has warned of a possible escalation of the conflict.

“The supply of Leopard battle tanks, which breaks another taboo, potentially brings us closer to a third world war rather than to peace in Europe,” the party’s parliamentary leader, Dietmar Bartsch, told the agency. German press dpa.

Recent opinion polls show that German voters are divided on this idea.

Pressure on Scholz mounted this week after Poland formally asked Germany to approve the shipment of Leopard 2 tanks from Polish stockpiles to Ukraine. Other European nations have also indicated their willingness to part ways with their own battle tanks as part of a larger coalition.

German news weekly Der Spiegel reported that Berlin may initially approve the supply of a tank company, comprising 14 vehicles.

But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made it clear on Tuesday evening that he hoped to receive more tanks from Western allies.

“It’s not about five, or 10, or 15 tanks. The need is greater,” he said.

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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