BRUSSELS: Dozens of second-hand Leopard 1 tanks that after belonged to Belgium have been purchased by one other European nation for Ukrainian forces combating Russia’s invasion, the arms dealer who did the deal stated Tuesday (Aug 8).
The German-made Leopards had been on the centre of a public spat earlier this yr after Belgian Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder stated the federal government had explored shopping for again tanks to ship to Ukraine however had been quoted unreasonable costs.
The conflict highlighted a predicament confronted by Western governments making an attempt discover weapons for Ukraine after greater than a yr of intense warfare – arms they discarded as out of date at the moment are in excessive demand, and sometimes owned by non-public firms.
Freddy Versluys, CEO of defence firm OIP Land Programs, purchased the tanks from the Belgian authorities greater than 5 years in the past.
He instructed Reuters he had now offered all 50 tanks to a different European authorities, which he couldn’t identify as a result of a confidentiality clause. He stated he additionally couldn’t disclose the worth.
Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper reported on Tuesday night that arms maker Rheinmetall had acquired the tanks and would put together most of them for export to Ukraine.
The corporate declined to remark.
“The truth that they depart our firm proves that we requested for a good market worth and somebody was very happy to take them,” Versluys stated in a submit on LinkedIn, accompanied by an image of tanks subsequent to a bottle of Ukrainian vodka.
He stated the tanks had been now being transported to a manufacturing facility for a considerable overhaul. A number of the tanks can be used for spare components whereas others can be repaired, he stated. He estimated it may very well be 4 to 6 months earlier than they had been on the battlefield in Ukraine.
A defence supply instructed Reuters that the German authorities was paying for 32 of the Leopard 1 tanks to be restored and despatched to Ukraine and that this was a part of a help bundle for Ukraine that Germany introduced on the NATO summit in Vilnius in July.
The German Defence Ministry had no speedy remark.
A number of of Kyiv’s Western allies agreed earlier this yr to ship trendy Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and likewise to ship older Leopard 1 fashions.
The Leopard 1 was made by German agency Krauss-Maffei, beginning within the Sixties. It’s lighter than the Leopard 2 and has a unique kind of important gun. The fashions offered by Versluys had been final upgraded within the Nineteen Nineties.
A spokesperson for the Belgian defence ministry declined to touch upon the sale of the tanks.