Germany and its allies will send about 80 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, German governing party says
From Chris Stern in Berlin
Ukraine’s Western allies will send the country a total of around 80 Leopard 2 main battle tanks, Germany’s main governing party said on Wednesday.
“Two battalions (a total of around 80 main battle tanks) of the Leopard-2-A6 type are to be delivered quickly,” the Social Democratic Party (SPD) said on Twitter.
“14 of these come from Bundeswehr stocks. In addition, the German government gives other countries permission to supply Ukraine with their own Leopard tanks,” it added
In addition to the Leopard 2 tanks, the United States on Wednesday pledged to send 31 M1 Abrams tanks, and the United Kingdom has pledged 14 Challenger 2 tanks.
1:05 p.m. ET, January 25, 2023
It will take 2 to 3 months for Leopard tanks to be fully operational in Ukraine, Portugal says
From CNN's Vasco Cotovio in London
It will take two to three months before Western-donated Leopard 2 tanks are fully operational in Ukraine, the Portuguese foreign minister said on Wednesday.
“In the first place it’ll depend on the training of Ukrainian crews,” João Gomes Cravinho told Portuguese broadcaster SIC on the sidelines of an event in Castelo Branco.
“Ukrainian military personnel need to be trained – the Leopard are a very advanced equipment, technologically, and so that will take a few weeks, just the training process ... After that there are logistical hurdles that need to be addressed with the allies, so it’ll take two or three months.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said last week that Portugal was among the countries “willing to provide” tanks to Ukraine.
The Portuguese Minister of Defense on Friday reiterated to Western officials at a meeting in Ramstein, Germany, Portugal’s “offer of training in this typology of fighting vehicle, and expressed the Portuguese government’s willingness to identify, in coordination with its partners, ways of endowing Ukraine with this capacity.”
Portugal’s foreign minister on Wednesday celebrated the Leopard 2 initiative.
“What’s important is we have this commitment, it’s a very important paradigm shift,” he said.
Cravinho did not go into detail about how many, if any, of Portugal’s 37 Leopard 2 tanks could be sent to Ukraine.
2:10 p.m. ET, January 25, 2023
5 world leaders agree to continue military support for Ukraine in call with German chancellor
From CNN's Chris Stern in Berlin and Joseph Ataman in Paris
In a call Wednesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and four other world leaders agreed to provide continued military support for Ukraine in "close Euro-Atlantic coordination," according to a readout.
Scholz spoke with US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, the readout said.
"The exchange focused on the security situation in Ukraine and continued support for Ukraine's fight against Russian aggression. All five leaders agreed to continue military support to Ukraine in close Euro-Atlantic coordination," it said.
The French Elysée also released a readout, which said that the five leaders welcomed Germany's authorization to deliver Leopard tanks to Ukraine, "which complements and amplifies the AMX10-RC tank support announced by France on January 4th. President BIDEN informed his counterparts of the new American support measures announced today."
"The five leaders have decided to stay in close contact to respond as effectively as possible to the needs of Ukraine and its people," the French readout added.
12:40 p.m. ET, January 25, 2023
Sen. Graham calls US and German tank announcements for Ukraine "a turning point in the war"
From CNN's Morgan Rimmer and Manu Raju
Republican US Sen. Lindsey Graham, who just returned from Ukraine, told CNN’s Manu Raju that he believes the Germans and Americans sending tanks to Ukraine marks “a turning point in the war.”
“What happened is a big friggin’ deal,” the South Carolina Republican said. “You’ve got the Germans and the United States making a decision that’s been long overdue. We’re all in.”
He added that he “wanted to compliment President Biden,” on taking this step.
Graham said, “I just got back from Ukraine last week, the tanks will be outcome-determinative militarily. With the tanks, they've got a fighting chance to take back their land. Without the tanks, it would be a long drawn-out war."
Graham said that Germany's decision to provide tanks is a "recognition that we can't be bullied by Putin."
"It's an all-in approach to helping Ukraine with the weapons they need," he said.
He also noted that US lawmakers will need to pass another Ukraine supplemental soon, even as some Republicans have expressed opposition to sending more aid.
“We'll need one in the next few months,” he said, adding that there's “an element of Congress who echoes the sentiments of the isolationists of World War Two." However, Graham said, he senses "a bipartisan resolve that I haven't felt before, seen before."
"Our Democratic colleagues, quite frankly, have been terrific on Ukraine and I appreciate it,” he said.
Graham added, “Those who are opposed to sending more money, these need to tell me what happens if Putin wins. What's the cost of a Putin victory in Ukraine? Will China be more likely to invade Taiwan? And does that matter? So I will debate my colleagues.”
12:39 p.m. ET, January 25, 2023
Biden outlines additional military equipment Western allies have pledged for Ukraine
US President Joe Biden said that the Ukraine Defense Contact Group members are also sending additional military equipment following their eighth meeting last week.
Biden said the group of 50 nations are each making "significant contributions of their own to Ukraine's integrity."
"I want to thank every member of that coalition for continuing to step up," Biden added.
He said the following countries are sending military equipment and weapons:
United Kingdom: Donating Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine.
France: Contributing AMX-10s, armored fighting vehicles and critical air defense systems.
Germany and United States: Leopard tanks and Patriot missile battery
The Netherlands: Donating a Patriot missile and launchers
Poland: Sending armored vehicles
Sweden: Donating infantry fighting vehicles
Italy: Giving artillery
Denmark and Estonia: Sending howitzers
Latvia: Providing for stinger missiles
Lithuania: Providing anti-aircraft guns
Finland: Announced its largest package of security assistance to date
Biden added, "France, Canada, the UK, Slovakia and Norway and others have all donated critical air defense systems to help secure Ukrainian skies and save the lives of innocent civilians who are literally the target — the target of Russia's aggression."
1:23 p.m. ET, January 25, 2023
Norway says it will contribute to Leopard tank initiative
From CNN's Lauren Kent
Norway will contribute to allies' efforts to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, a Norwegian Defense Ministry spokesperson told CNN on Wednesday.
"We will contribute," the spokesperson said, adding that Norway has not yet released details on how many tanks it will send or the timeline for getting tanks to Ukraine.
Norwegian defense minister Bjørn Arild Gram said in a statement Wednesday they are in "close dialogue" with allies and Ukraine on how they can contribute "in the best possible way."
"We are working as fast as we can to provide Ukraine with the support they need," Gram added. "Norway has contributed significantly throughout 2022 and will continue to support Ukraine in 2023."
More on the tanks: CNN cannot confirm the total number of Leopard 2 tanks to be delivered, but pledges made by multiple countries so far mean the Ukrainian military is in line to receive dozens of the tanks.
Two Oslo-based newspapers reported on Tuesday that the Norwegian government was considering whether to send some of its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, according to Reuters. Dagens Naeringsliv reported that Norway might contribute between 4 and 8 of the country’s 36 Leopard 2 tanks. “We do not wish to comment on these deliberations or any ongoing or future contributions," the Norwegian defense minister told CNN.
12:25 p.m. ET, January 25, 2023
Ukrainian soldier on front lines says tanks "help us a lot in battles"
“Wow! They're giving them to us? This is really good news, because tankers help us a lot in battles, especially in Soledar. The guys worked very well there," he said. CNN is not naming the soldier for security reasons.
He told CNN that tank crews had proved incredibly helpful in Ukraine’s attempted defense of Soledar, the eastern Ukrainian town that the military finally conceded Wednesday had fallen to Russia earlier this month.
“If they put a good crew on the Leopard and give them good ammo and manage to send it here, it will be very timely help for the city,” he said of Bakhmut.
12:26 p.m. ET, January 25, 2023
Biden: Germany "didn't force me to change my mind" on sending US Abrams tanks to Ukraine
US President Joe Biden told reporters Wednesday that Germany did not pressure him to announce sending Abrams tanks to Ukraine.
"Germany didn't force me to change my mind. We wanted to make sure we're all together," he said after delivering remarks on support to Ukraine from the White House.
This comes as Germany broke its diplomatic logjam with the US on Wednesday as it announced that it will send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
Earlier, the two nations appeared to be in a standoff as German officials indicated Berlin would only send their Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine if the US sent the M-1 Abrams tanks.
In his Wednesday address, Biden also said, "Germany has really stepped up. The chancellor has been a strong, strong voice for unity."