Rheinmetall Reportedly Seeking to Purchase Leopard Tanks from Switzerland for Ukraine
Moscow, March 4 – The German Defense Ministry, Rheinmetall, intends to purchase nearly a hundred Leopard 1 tanks from the Swiss company Ruag for shipment to Ukraine, the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger reported.
According to her, the defense company Ruag purchased 96 Leopard 1 A5 tanks in Italy in 2016, which were previously operational and were not technically sound at the time of purchase. It is noteworthy that these tanks were produced in Italy, where they are still located, and previously Ruag wanted to resell all tanks or their parts. However, now, according to the publication, old tanks are in demand in view of the hostilities in Ukraine.
A Ruag spokesperson confirmed that Rheinmetall had expressed interest in purchasing the tanks. According to her, the German company “at the same time made it clear that after processing it will be delivered to Ukraine.”
However, it should be noted that the Swiss State Secretariat for Economics (SECO), for legal reasons, vetoed the implementation of this transaction.
On Friday, the German Ministry of Defense confirmed that an order had been sent to Switzerland for the purchase of Leopard 2 tanks. At the same time, the ministry indicated that the equipment would not be destined for Ukraine. According to a ministry spokesperson, the Bundeswehr is striving to improve its stockpiles.
At the end of January, the Swiss National Council Committee approved an initiative allowing the re-export of Swiss-made weapons to Ukraine. Later, the Security Committee of the Congress of the Cantons (the lower house of parliament) opposed the initiative. The amendments have not yet been discussed by both houses of parliament, and the country’s government should also indicate its position.
Previously, referring to the principle of military neutrality, Switzerland refused requests from Germany, Spain and Denmark to re-export ammunition produced in the Union to Ukraine. As the authorities have stressed, Switzerland can refuse to re-export military items if the country for which they are intended is involved in an international armed conflict.
Russia sent a note to NATO countries over the supply of weapons to Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has indicated that any shipment containing weapons to Ukraine would become a legitimate target for Russia. The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that NATO countries were “playing with fire” by supplying arms to Ukraine. Lavrov warned that as the West pumps more and more long-range weapons into Ukraine, the geographic targets of the special operation are moving further and further from the current line.
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