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"Finland could send Leopards to Ukraine," Defence Committee says

Germany has not permitted the re-export of the tanks to other countries.

Antti Häkkänen.
Antti Häkkänen (NCP), chair of Parliament's Defence Committee, spoke to Yle on 21 January 2023. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle
Yle News

This week Finland sent its largest-ever military aid package to Ukraine. The shipment, however, did not include German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks requested by Ukraine.

Antti Häkkänen (NCP), chair of Parliament's Defence Committee, on Saturday told Yle that Germany could greenlight Leopards [which Finland has] for Ukraine.

"I'm quite confident that Germany will see the tanks as necessary," Häkkänen told Yle TV1's Ykkösaamu programme, referring to Germany holding the export licences for the tanks.

Finland could either supply a few tanks or provide training for Ukrainian forces, according to Häkkänen, who also noted that the matter was ultimately in the hands of the government and president.

"All of the Nato countries understand what our position as a border nation is," he said.

With the tanks being German-manufactured, other countries including Finland have not been able to send Leopards to Ukraine as long as Germany denies their re-export.

"Germany is in the midst of an internal debate on the matter and all the while pressure from Nato countries is mounting. I'm quite confident that Germany will lean towards approving the re-export," he explained.

Häkkänen said Germany’s hesitation relates to worries about the risk of an escalation between east and west.

"The risk of escalation must always be taken seriously. A war between Nato and Russia would be a catastrophe. But Russia does overuse the idea of escalation in its rhetoric," he explained.

Alluding to Germany and France, the Defence Committee chair also said Europe needed to show leadership.

"You can't always look across the Atlantic," he added.

The National Coalition Party MP also emphasised that supporting Ukraine is in line with the right to self defence as outlined in the United Nations Charter.

Finland's military aid package to Ukraine this week—the twelfth and largest to date—has been valued at over 400 million euros.

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