The deal to service Leopard 2s in Poland will be finalized before the NATO summit next month, Berlin’s diplomat said
Berlin and Warsaw are nearing an agreement to establish a “repair hub” in Poland for Leopard battle tanks damaged in Ukraine, Berlin’s ambassador told Bloomberg on Tuesday, voicing hopes that a deal will be reached before NATO leaders meet in Lithuania for a major summit next month.
Negotiations between the two sides will be finalized sometime “in the coming days,” ahead of the alliance meeting in Vilnius starting on July 11, according to the German envoy to Poland, Thomas Bagger. The repair center will provide parts for German-made tanks now used by Kiev, which are in short supply on the battlefield, Bagger told the outlet.
Ukraine has deployed Leopard 2s during its their much-anticipated counteroffensive that was launched last week. Several tanks have already been destroyed or abandoned on the battlefield.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that a number of Leopards, as well as US-made M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, were captured after the fighting in the Zaporozhye region.
During a visit to Paris earlier this week, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz confirmed that the discussions for the repair center were nearly finished, noting that Berlin would soon be able to help service the tanks from Poland, which has served as a transit hub for Western military aid to Kiev.
“Of course it’s best if weapons systems only move a short distance outside of Ukraine, get repaired on the scene and then are redeployed,” Scholz said after a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and President Andrzej Duda of Poland, as cited by Bloomberg.
Germany and other NATO members have pledged to deliver more than 80 Leopard 2 tanks and around 100 of the older Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine. They are also providing training to Ukrainian crews.
Germany, Poland and Ukraine first announced plans for the tank repair project in April, with German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius saying it would cost up to €200 million ($215 million) each year. He suggested at the time that the repairs could begin by May.