Admin l Saturday, March 04, 2023
BERLIN – Germany wants to buy back 40-year-old Leopard 2 battle tanks from Switzerland to replace stocks sent to Ukraine. The Swiss Ministry of Defence confirmed it had received the request on Friday, following a report by Blick newspaper.
They are to replace tanks that Germany and other countries in the European Union have delivered to Ukraine. The Swiss Defence Ministry did not say how many tanks Germany wanted to buy.
“From the army’s point of view, it would be possible in principle to dispense with a limited number of battle tanks,” the ministry said.
Switzerland has 230 Leopard 2 tanks, of which 134 are in service. The remaining 96 are mothballed, but it must now be decided whether that amounts to being “decomissioned,” because under Swiss law, only decommissioned material can be sold.
Their status will have to be decided by parliament, and it is unclear when that could take place. There is currently a vigorous debate in Switzerland about arms deliveries to support Kiev in its battle against Russia’s full-scale invasion, launched a year ago.
So far, referring to its neutral stance, Switzerland has not permitted Germany and other countries to pass on Swiss ammunition to Ukraine.
The Swiss are divided on whether and how this should be changed, a recent poll showed.