German defense giant Rheinmetall is ready to deliver 50 Leopard 1 tanks to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the company's top official said Monday.
Rheinmetall chief executive Armin Papperger told Germany’s Handelsblatt business newspaper that the first batch of the decommissioned tanks, which were returned to the company after being used by other armies, could be delivered to Ukraine in six weeks and the rest over the following three months.
He noted that the Leopard 1 is the predecessor of the Leopard 2 currently used by the Bundeswehr, the armed forces of Germany.
The Leopard 1 is a battle tank designed and produced in Germany that first entered service in 1965.
Papperger underlined that the delivery of the tanks can be made through the Rheinmetall Italia unit of the parent company.
The prerequisite for the delivery is the approval of the federal government, said the head of the Dusseldorf-based firm.
He emphasized that Ukrainian soldiers can also be quickly trained on the Leopard 1.
Speaking about the company's previous statement that it could deliver 50 to 60 Marder-type tanks to Ukraine, Papperger said that 10 to 20 of them could be ready within six weeks.
Russia's war on Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24, has drawn international condemnation, led to financial sanctions on Moscow and spurred an exodus of global companies from Russia.
At least 1,842 civilians have been killed and 2,493 injured in Ukraine since Russia declared war on Feb. 24, according to U.N. estimates, with the true figure feared to be much higher.
Over 4.5 million Ukrainians have fled to other countries, with millions more internally displaced, according to the U.N. refugee agency.
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