Germany will approve the transfer of Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukrainian forces and also grant permission to other European nations, including Poland, to do the same for their German-made tanks.
The German decision, made after days of pressure from the most pro-Kyiv members of NATO, was confirmed by multiple sources Tuesday and comes at a pivotal moment in the nearly year-old Russian war in Ukraine.
It also comes as the Biden administration is poised to begin sending America’s most-advanced tank to Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials had vented frustration as recently as Friday that Berlin was dragging its feet on the delivery of heavy artillery and halting other NATO members from providing tanks to push back an ongoing Russian military onslaught that analysts say is likely to expand over the coming weeks.
The tank transfers represent the most robust equipment being provided by NATO nations to Ukraine since Russia invaded its smaller neighbor last February.
Poland had indicated last week that it was ready to transfer German-made Leopards to Ukrainian forces but only with permission from Berlin. Polish officials then indicated early Tuesday that they had requested such permission but were awaiting a response.
Two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters news agency on Tuesday that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had decided to grant the permission and to transfer tanks directly from Germany to Ukrainian forces.
The news agency also cited Spiegel magazine, which first reported the German chancellor’s decision, and said it concerns at least one company of Leopard 2 A6 tanks that will be provided out of Bundeswehr stocks.
One company usually has 14 tanks, according to Reuters.
The development comes as the Biden administration is poised to approve sending M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, U.S. officials said Tuesday, as international reluctance to send tanks to the battlefront against the Russians began to erode.
The U.S decision could be announced as soon as Wednesday, though it could take months or years for the tanks to be delivered.
Britain had already said earlier this month that it would be willing to provide its most advanced battle tank, the Challenger 2, to Kyiv.
• This story is based in part on wire service reports.