German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said Monday that Berlin won’t be able to replace every German-made Leopard tank that Ukrainian forces lose in their fight against Russia.
His comments come amid reports that Leopards have been destroyed in Ukraine’s counteroffensive. On Tuesday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that it captured several Leopards and US-made Bradley Fighting Vehicles.
According to AFP, Pistorius refused to authenticate images circulating online that show damaged Leopard tanks in Ukraine. Appearing to confirm that Ukraine is losing a lot of armored vehicles, Andrii Melnyk, Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister, appealed for more Western armor, including the Leopard 2 tank.
“The Ukrainian army desperately needs many more Western battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other armored vehicles,” Melnyk said, according to Ukrainska Pravda. “Each Leopard 2 is literally worth its weight in gold for a decisive offensive.”
Germany has provided Ukraine with 18 Leopard 2 tanks from its military stockpiles and is also sending refurbished Leopard 1 tanks. But Melnyk thinks Berlin could do more, saying the supply of Leopard 2 tanks from Germany could be “tripled without jeopardizing Germany’s ability to defend itself.”
Pistorius said that Germany “will not be able to replace every tank that is now out of action.” He added that “unfortunately it is the nature of war that weapons are destroyed, that tanks are destroyed and people are killed.”