Portugal to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine, PM says
LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal will send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Saturday, without specifying how many will be shipped.
Costa added that Portugal is in talks with Germany to obtain parts needed for the repair of a number of inoperable Leopard tanks in Portugal's inventory of the weapon.
"We are currently working to be able to dispense some of our tanks," Costa told Lusa news agency during a trip to the Central African Republic. "I know how many tanks will be (sent to Ukraine) but that will be announced at the appropriate time."
Costa's office did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Admiral António Silva Ribeiro, the head of the Portuguese armed forces, said last month Portugal had 37 Leopard 2 tanks but it has been widely reported by local media that most are inoperable.
Portugal is working with Germany to get the parts needed to repair the tanks that are not operational, Costa said, adding he hoped to deliver them to Ukraine by the end of March.
The defence ministry said it would not comment on the "operability of weapons and equipment systems" for security reasons.
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said earlier this week the country would receive 120 to 140 Western tanks in a "first wave" of deliveries from a coalition of 12 countries.
Kyiv secured pledges from the West to supply main battle tanks to help fend off Russia's full-scale invasion, with Moscow mounting huge efforts to make incremental advances in eastern Ukraine.
(Reporting by Catarina Demony; Editing by William Maclean)