UK increases pressure on Germany to supply Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine

Baroness Goldie did not rule out sending Ukraine more Challenger 2 tanks in addition to 14 already pledged

A Leopard 2 A6 battle tank. Bloomberg
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A UK defence minister has increased the pressure on Germany to add to its military aid to Ukraine, saying it would be a “quantum step” if Berlin gave Leopard 2 tanks to the war-torn country.

Minister of State for Defence Baroness Annabel Goldie told Parliament that such support would be a “very significant step forward”.

The Tory frontbencher did not rule out the UK sending more Challenger 2 tanks in support of the Ukrainian government, in addition to the 14 already promised.

Her comments came ahead of a meeting of allies at Ramstein Air Base in western Germany, to be hosted by US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.

It was to be attended by Britain’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and the Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin.

Former Labour MP Baroness Gisela Stuart of Edgbaston urged Mr Wallace to push for a commitment on Leopard 2 tanks when he meets the German Defence Minister at the summit.

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The independent crossbencher served on the intelligence and security committee and is the current chairwoman of Wilton Park, an executive agency of the Foreign Office.

“Because without that contribution, which is comprehensive, Ukraine will not get the response it needs and deserves,” Baroness Stuart said.

Lady Goldie said: “I think there is a lot of sympathy with the point she makes.

“There is a recognition that despite the donation of tanks to date … there is a quantum step that could be taken with the addition of the Leopard tanks."

Labour peer Viscount Stansgate, son of the late left-wing firebrand Tony Benn, said: “If the provision of these Challenger 2 tanks is thought to be a success, is it the government’s intention to provide further such tanks to Ukraine?”

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Lady Goldie said: “We constantly review what the assessed need is.

“Part of this is, in a sense, what in aggregate we can achieve with individual contributions. There are other countries donating tanks. I think the addition of Leopard tanks would be a very significant step forward."

Liberal Democrat former leader Lord Menzies Campbell of Pittenweem said: “The House supports without qualification the supply of arms to Ukraine.

“But are we not entitled to credible evidence that the government is even now replenishing our own stock of military equipment so as to maintain now the credibility and capability of our own armed forces?”

Lady Goldie replied: “Certainly we are confident that we have retained sufficient equipment, ammunitions, so we are able to undertake our primary responsibilities in the security of the United Kingdom."

Updated: January 18, 2023, 9:56 PM