The promise finally came from Oslo, Berlin and Washington DC: the heaviest tanks will be sent to Ukraine's defence.

The Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams take the frontline war to a new level. Kyiv is grateful, while Russia's Moscow sees it as a "provocation."

A German Leopard 2A6 tank during a NATO exercise in Lithuania in 2022.
A German Leopard 2A6 tank during a NATO exercise in Lithuania in 2022.

First out was the German Chancellor, the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, who announced that 14 tanks of the type Leopard 2 were being sent to Ukraine.

Germany has carefully considered the danger of escalation and the risk in symbolic value of sending tanks to war against Russia.

Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz gives speeches to soldiers in front of a tank of type Leopard 2 in the German Ostenholz in October 2022.
Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz gives speeches to soldiers in front of a tank of type Leopard 2 in the German Ostenholz in October 2022.

"We must do what is necessary and possible to support Ukraine, while preventing a war between Russia and NATO," said the Chancellor, stressing that Germany's decision was made in close cooperation with its allies.

In a high political game, Germany wanted to get the US to send its heaviest tank, the M1 Abrams, at the same time. And the game was won. A few hours after the Berlin announcement, US President Joe Biden, a Democrat, appeared, flanked by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

Sending 31 tanks

Biden announced that the US sends 31 Abrams tanks.

"This is not an offensive threat to Russia," he said, adding:

"We are united in our convictions and in our mission."

He then thanked Chancellor Scholz, whereupon he named many of the Western countries that had decided to send heavier armor and more equipment to Ukraine's defense.

Both the US and Germany announced that training of the Ukrainian military will begin as soon as possible.

President of the USA Joe Biden, flanked by Minister for Foreign Affairs Antony Blinken (left) and Minister of Defense Lloyd Austin Listen.
US President Joe Biden, flanked by Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin list.

President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the countries immediately after the announcement:

"This is an important step on the road to victory," wrote Zelensky on social media and personally thanked those who decided on the expanded, heavy military support.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg tweeted that the German tanks can help Ukraine win the war.

Germany's go-ahead means it is sending its own tanks and allowing other countries to do the same.

Russian anger

"Russia reacted as expected with anger to the major reinforcements given to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The invasion forces complained of "a flagrant provocation."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow that the Western tanks will "burn just like any other."

The variant of the Leopard tank that Germany intends to send to Ukraine, 2A6.
The variant of the Leopard tank that Germany intends to send to Ukraine, 2A6.

At the same time, several Western governments announced that they are also sending heavier combat vehicles and more weapons to the Ukrainian military.

Spain claims to be ready to deliver its Leopard to Ukraine, as well as Poland. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who previously criticized Germany's hesitation, said that the turnaround means, "a great step towards stopping Russia."

Norway has decided to send Leopold 2 tanks, says Minister of Defense Bjรธrn Arild Gram to NRK.

"Norway will contribute. We are in close dialog with our allies and Ukraine about how Norway can make the best contribution."

The exact number is not clear; in the past there has been information that there are eight out of the country's total of 36 Leopard 2. Grams does not want to confirm the figure.

"We work as fast as we can to be able to support Ukraine," he says.

Nothing out of the question about Swedish support

"Denmark and Finland are also discussing the issue. However, with Finland's defense capabilities in mind, the country's efforts cannot be very great," said Minister of Defense Mikko Savola โ€“ possibly a few individual Leopard tanks.

"We are not yet members of NATO and cannot bargain our own defense", he said.

Sweden will not send any Leopard tanks - in Sweden called tank 122 - to Ukraine at this time, said Defence Minister Pรฅl Jonson (M)

"Our immediate focus now is on sending out CV90 (combat vehicles 90) which is perhaps the world's most qualified combat vehicles. Later, I do not rule out that we could contribute in one form or another to the Leopard family.

Facts: Leopard

The tank Leopard 1 started to be used in 1965. The model Leopard 2 then began to be produced in the 1970s, then on behalf of the West German army.

Leopard 2 weighs over 60 tons, can travel up to 70 kilometers per hour and hit goal at a distance of up to four and a half kilometers. When the cannon is directed forward, the tank is almost 11 meters long.

About 20 states have had, have or will receive Leopard 2, including Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Turkey and Sweden.

Sweden bought the Leopard 2 system in 1994. Here they have been named tank 121 and 122.

Leopard 2 in turn has subvariations, which are now known as 2A4 to 2A7.

Sources: Swedish Defense Materiel Administration, Swedish Armed Forces, KMW