German govt security council OKs delivery of 178 Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine – source

BERLIN (Reuters) – The German government’s security council has approved delivery of 178 Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine from industry stocks, considerably more than previously announced, a source said, confirming an earlier Spiegel magazine report.

“The export of 178 Leopard 1s is approved,” said the person, who was familiar with the situation.

The report emerged as German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius made a surprise appearance in Kyiv.

Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov tweeted a picture of him and Pistorius posing with a scale model Leopard in a display case, writing: “The ‘first’ Leopard 2 has arrived in Kyiv.”

Some would be sent in the summer but the bulk of the Leopard 1s would be delivered next year, Der Spiegel reported.

The move follows the German government’s decision last month, amid mounting international pressure, to deliver more modern Leopard 2 battle tanks from army stocks.

Earlier, the head of Leopard-maker Rheinmetall said it would send Ukraine 20-25 Leopards this year, with another 88 to be sent next year.

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke and Sabine Siebold; Writing by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Rachel More and Mark Porter)

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