The Netherlands wants to buy dozens more Leopard 1 tanks, Patriot missiles for Ukraine
The Netherlands wants to buy several dozen more Leopard 1 tanks to deliver to Ukraine, sources said on Thursday. Additionally, the Netherlands is looking at how it can deliver more Patriot anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine, as well.
The Cabinet wants to buy the tanks from their Swiss manufacturer, those involved said. In order to do so, they will have to obtain permission from the Swiss government, which has so far been reluctant to cooperate in arms deliveries.
Switzerland, which cherishes its traditional stance of neutrality, has kept out of the conflict with Russia as much as possible. It has essentially blocked the export of weapons intended for Ukraine.
The Leopard 1 is a somewhat older tank than the more advanced Leopard 2, of which Ukraine has also received dozens. Nevertheless, Kyiv can use them well in their fight against the Russian invasion, especially now that Ukraine could launch a counterattack.
Earlier this year, together with Germany and Denmark, the Netherlands bought "at least" a hundred Leopard 1A5 battle tanks for Ukraine. Those modernized tanks were bought directly from German manufacturers. They were there in storage.
The Netherlands is aiming to buy 96 more Leopard 1 units from the Swiss company Ruag, wrote the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger.
More Patriot missiles needed, with support from more countries
The Netherlands is also examining whether it can send to Ukraine more Patriot anti-aircraft missiles, or parts to operate them. Ukraine's allies urgently need to supply the country with more anti-aircraft weaponry, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on arrival in Moldova for the summit of European leaders. Rutte said he also hopes to persuade other countries to supply Ukraine with Patriots.
Together with Germany, the Netherlands has already supplied a Patriot missile system. The Netherlands was responsible for two launchers and a number of missiles. But Russian air strikes on military and civilian targets have continued, and air defense is also important for Ukraine's potential counter-offensive.
"We are looking very closely at what we can still do," said Rutte at the meeting at a Moldavian wine estate in Bulboaca, a few kilometers away from Ukraine. But "you can't deliver everything you've got." The Netherlands also needs the advanced missiles to monitor its own airspace, for example above the Port of Rotterdam.
"We must expand" the "Patriot coalition" of countries supplying Ukraine with the missiles, Rutte said. "Of course there are more countries that have Patriots and they are not yet delivering." He will discuss this at the summit of the European Political Community, a forum for nearly fifty European leaders.
Importance of holding the summit in Moldova
Ukraine must win and Europe must do everything possible to make that happen, Rutte said in his remarks at the opening ceremony of the summit. The issue of responsibility will be key at the summit, he said. He called on his colleagues to take steps so that Ukraine can defend itself, also in the long term and also in times of adversity.
The summit was deliberately organized in Ukraine's impoverished, small neighbor as a signal of European unity. "That speaks volumes. Here, in a country that borders Ukraine, the Russian threat is visibly prevalent," Rutte argued. "Russia is undermining the Moldovan people's sense of freedom and security with cyberattacks and hybrid threats. This highlights the widespread impact of this war."
The prime minister assured support for Moldova , which, like Ukraine, has rapidly gained European Union candidate country status following Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year. And he repeated support for Ukraine. "We all know that this war is not going to end by itself."
Rutte therefore called for more efforts to "restore peace, security and justice in Europe," such as forming coalitions to supply weapons to Ukraine, or training Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s, such as the Netherlands and Denmark going to do.
Reporting by ANP