The Netherlands reportedly plans to purchase dozens of Leopard 1s
Dutch officials are reportedly making plans to buy dozens more Leopard 1 tanks, as well as Patriot missiles, to help boost Ukraine's firepower in its ongoing conflict with Russia.
The Netherlands' Cabinet aims to purchase Leopards from Swiss state-owned manufacturer Ruag, Dutch online media outlet NL Times reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the plans. The deal will require approval from Switzerland's government, which has tried to maintain neutrality amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Amsterdam joined with Germany and Denmark in February to buy at least 100 Leopard 1A5 battle tanks for Ukraine from German manufacturers.
Swiss newspaper Targes-Anzeiger reported that the Netherlands seeks to buy 96 Leopard 1s, an older version of the tank, from Ruag.
At the same time, the Netherlands is looking to provide more Patriot missiles or parts to operate them to help boost Ukraine's air defenses, the NL Times said. The NATO member previously gave Kiev two Patriot launchers and a number of missiles.
"We are looking very closely at what we can still do," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Thursday after arriving in Moldova for a summit of European leaders. However, he added that given the Netherlands' own security needs, "you can't deliver everything you've got." He called for more countries to join the coalition of nations supplying Patriot missiles to Ukraine.
German lawmakers last week approved the purchase of 18 Leopard 2A8 tanks and 12 Panzerhaubitze 2000 howitzers to replace weapons stockpiles that were sent to Kiev. The deal reportedly includes an option to buy 105 additional Leopards. Berlin's latest aid package for Ukraine includes 30 Leopard 1 tanks.
Ukraine has repeatedly said that the supply of foreign heavy weapons is crucial for the success of its planned counteroffensive. Moscow, meanwhile, has warned that the Western-delivered tanks and other systems would be treated as legitimate targets on the battlefield.