Spain is said to be preparing the transfer of Leopard tanks and Aspide surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine, in what would be the first transfer of Western main battle tanks to the country since the start of the Russian invasion there in February this year.
According to Spanish daily El-Pais, which cited government sources, Spain is willing to transfer Leopard A4 tanks to Ukraine. These would be vehicles procured second-hand from Germany in the 1990s and placed in storage for a future upgrade/activation.
It should be noted that returning these tanks to an operational status could require a considerable amount of time, as they were prepared for long-term storage.
Up to 40 – out of a total of 108 Leopards in storage – could be prepared for hand-over to Ukraine, El Pais quoted defense sources as saying.
This transfer would also require Germany’s approval, who as the original owner/maker of the tank has the right to veto exports of weapons to other users.
El Pais also said that Spain would help train Ukrainian operators on the battle tanks. This would initially take place in Latvia, where the Spanish Army has six Leopard 2E tanks deployed, as part of NATO’s Enhanced Advanced Presence (EFP) mission.
In addition to the tanks, Spain is also willing to transfer the retired Aspide surface-to-air missile systems. This shipment is currently awaiting the completion of negotiations via a center in Stuttgart, Germany, that is in charge of coordinating military aid to Ukraine.
Leopard tanks and Aspide missiles would be the first heavy weapons systems delivered to Ukraine by Spain, which has so far been sending C-90 grenade launchers or machine guns, and protective equipment.
The only other country to supply tanks to Ukraine was the Czech Republic, which handed over Soviet T-72 tanks in return for more modern Leopard 2 A4 tanks from Germany.