Germany unveils 2.7 billion euro military package to Ukraine, biggest yet
Illustrative photo: Romanian Land Forces "Iron Cheetahs" fire their anti-aircraft "Gepards" during a live fire at Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, Nov. 24, 2021.
BERLIN (Reuters) -Germany on Saturday announced 2.7 billion euro ($3.0 billion) of military aid to Ukraine, its biggest such package yet since Russia's invasion, and pledged further support for Kyiv for as long as necessary.
The package will include 30 Leopard 1 tanks, 15 Gepard anti-aircraft tanks, over 200 reconnaissance drones and four Iris-T anti-aircraft systems, according to a defence ministry statement.
"We all wish for a speedy end to this terrible and illegal war.... Unfortunately, this is not yet foreseeable. Therefore, Germany will provide any help it can - as long as it takes," German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said.
"Thank you to our allies," Andriy Yermak, chief of staff to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, wrote in a post on Telegram confirming the package.
Ukraine has pressed its allies for long-range weapons, jets and ammunition before a counteroffensive expected in coming weeks or months. Saturday's German package also included 18 howitzers.
Germany was initially reluctant to provide heavy arms to Ukraine to help it counter Russia's invasion, fearing it might escalate the fight. But in January Berlin agreed to send Leopard tanks and said it would work with allies to send more.
($1 = 0.9084 euros)
(Reporting by Max Hunder, Victoria Waldersee, Sabine Siebold; Editing by William Mallard and John Stonestreet)