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ISTANBUL:

The NATO chief on Wednesday welcomed the decisions by Germany and US to send Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine, a major policy reversal after months of international pressure.

Germany will supply 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv, train Ukrainian troops to use the tanks and also provide licenses to other European countries that wish to supply Leopards from their own stock. Poland has already requested approval to send some of its Leopards to Ukraine.

The US, meanwhile, will send 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, while training of Ukrainian troops will begin “as soon as possible,” according to President Joe Biden.

“I strongly welcome the leadership of (Chancellor) Olaf Scholz and Germany in providing Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine in consultation with other NATO Allies and partners,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Twitter.

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“At a critical moment in Russia’s war, these can help Ukraine to defend itself, win and prevail as an independent nation,” he stressed.

Following Biden’s announcement, the NATO secretary general tweeted: “NATO Allies are united in our support for Ukraine’s self-defense. Together with the UK’s Challenger & Germany’s Leopard2, this can make a significant difference in fighting back against Russia.”

Separately, Stoltenberg said he spoke to Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson on ways to further boost their support to Ukraine.

“We also addressed the importance of completing Sweden’s NATO membership process,” he added.



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