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Germany authorizes sale to Ukraine of 56 battle tanks

A Ukrainian soldier stands in front of the machine gun at the border checkpoint near the town of Debaltseve. / Afp

They are from the former German Democratic Republic

Germany has authorized, through the urgent procedure, the sale to Ukraine of battle tanks from the former German Democratic Republic, despite its resistance so far to supplying that country with heavy weapons of war. These are 56 tracked infantry fighting vehicles of the BMP-1 type of Soviet development and East German production, equipped with cannons and heavy machine guns, and which were part of the standard armament of the armies of the Warsaw Pact.

These tanks became the property of the ‘Bundeswehr’, the federal army, after the reunification of Germany. At the end of the 1990s they were sold to Sweden, whose army subsequently sold them to a Czech company, which is now negotiating their possible supply with Ukraine. However, it needs the express permission of Germany for the purchase of these battle tanks by the kyiv authorities, based on a final destination clause required by the Berlin government.

Three years ago, the government of the then Federal Chancellor, Angela Merkel, did not allow the sale of those tanks to Ukraine, arguing that it did not want to worsen relations with Moscow. However this time everything has accelerated. The kyiv authorities officially became interested in the 56 cars on March 24 and only a week later the Federal Security Council has authorized the transaction.

Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany has supplied Ukraine with weapons, mainly ammunition and anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, but has refused to deliver heavy artillery or tanks. The authorization for the 56 tanks represents a turn in its policy by the executive of the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, who has promised a change in the security policy of this country.

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