UK piles pressure on Germany with Cleverly pleading for tanks

Scholz is asked on whether he will send Leopard tanks to Ukraine

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The Foreign Secretary said he would like “nothing more” than to see Ukrainians armed with Leopard 2 tanks that can hit targets while on the move.

Germany has so far blocked other countries that own its tanks from releasing them to Kyiv under export rules.

James Cleverly refused to directly criticise the German government but said he wants to see a deal to send the equipment.

He said: “The Prime Minister decided quite rightly that the most humane thing to do is to bring this war to a swift conclusion and for the Ukrainians to be successful in the defence of the homeland.

“That is why we made the commitment to significantly increase our military support to Ukraine, to help them defend themselves, including with Challenger 2 tanks.

“I would like nothing more than to see the Ukrainians equipped with those most up-to-date armoured vehicles, both tanks and artillery, and others. The Leopard 2 is an incredibly effective piece of military equipment. I would like nothing more than to see the Ukrainians armed with Leopard 2.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded with allies to speed up the delivery of military support in his country’s fight against the Russian invasion.

But a conference in Germany on Friday ended without an agreement from Berlin on supply of its battle tanks.

Poland said Germany’s refusal to give it permission to send 14 of the vehicles to Ukraine is “unacceptable”.

Around 2,000 Leopard 2s are dotted across European nations.

Britain became the first Western power to agree to send battle tanks with 14 British Army Challenger 2s on the way in the coming weeks.

Mr Cleverly said Germany has been a “huge contributor” of support for Ukraine through hosting of refugees, providing military equipment and economic aid and also through imposition of sanctions.

He said it was ultimately for every Nato member to decide how they can best support Kyiv.

“The Ukrainians said that they need and want tanks, and they need Western calibre Nato standard tanks,” he added. “We provided some Challenger 2s.

“Countries across Nato have provided a range of armoured vehicles. Some of that includes light tanks and some of that includes significant artillery.

“We will continue working with our friends and allies across Nato to make sure that the support we give to the Ukrainian armed forces and Ukrainian people are the most effective at helping them defend themselves against this brutal invasion.”

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