Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The United Kingdom and eight EU countries pledged an “unprecedented” level of military support for Ukraine on Thursday, ahead of the Friday summit in Ramstein where some 50 western countries will agree on new weapons deliveries for Ukraine.
The pledge from the UK, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, Czechia, the Netherlands and Slovakia came after the Thursday meeting between UK Defence Minister Ben Wallace and his Polish and Baltic counterparts in Estonia, where the so-called “Leopard group” discussed military aid for Ukraine and diplomatic pressure on Berlin to send its own main battle tanks to Kyiv.
“We commit to collectively pursuing the delivery of an unprecedented set of donations including main battle tanks, heavy artillery, air defence, ammunition, and infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine’s defence,” the groups said in a release published on the British government website.
Poland and Finland have previously expressed interest in donating some of their Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine – a move which would require export clearance by Berlin, as Germany was the original exporter of the weapons. The Netherlands and Denmark also have a stock of Leopard 2 tanks, some of which could ostensibly be refurbished and donated.
The Czech Republic has already pledged to send 90 of its Soviet-era T-72 tanks to Ukraine, which are currently being modernised by a Czech company financed by the US and the Netherlands. Britain has already pledged 14 of its Challenger 2 tanks – enough to equip a heavy cavalry squadron or a heavily armoured company.
A pledge from the nine countries ahead of the Friday summit represents additional pressure on Berlin to at least grant export permits for the Leopard 2 tanks in European allies’ arsenals, and to seriously consider sending some of its own stock.