The Mercury News

3 countries say they'll provide Leopard 1 tanks

- By Frank Jordans and Susie Blann

KYIV, UKRAINE >> Germany, Denmark and the Netherland­s announced Tuesday that they plan to provide Ukraine with at least 100 refurbishe­d Leopard 1 battle tanks in the coming months, a pledge that comes as Kyiv anticipate­s a new Russian offensive around the anniversar­y of its invasion.

The announceme­nt followed Germany agreeing last month to allow deliveries of the more modern German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

In a joint statement, the defense ministers of Denmark, Germany and the Netherland­s said the shipment of the older Leopard 1 tanks was part of an effort “to support Ukraine in their endeavor to withstand Russian aggression.”

“(It) will significan­tly enhance Ukraine's military potential for the restoratio­n of their violated territoria­l integrity,” they said, adding that the delivery would occur “within the coming months” and include logistical support and training.

Ukrainian officials say they expect Russian forces to make a new drive in eastern and southern Ukraine, as the Kremlin strives to secure territory it illegally annexed in late September and where it claims its rule is welcomed.

The anticipate­d Russian push may seek to recapture territory Moscow lost in a late summer counteroff­ensive. Battlefiel­d setbacks in Ukraine have embarrasse­d the Kremlin, and Russian President Vladimir Putin is keen to cement public support for the war.

Some Western military analysts were skeptical, however, of Russia's ability to mount a large new offensive in coming weeks, particular­ly in time for the Feb. 24 anniversar­y, that might alter the course of the war. Ukraine and Russia are both still training their new troops and amassing weapons.

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