The deal involves used and decommissioned Leopard 1 tanks that the Swiss company Ruag bought from Italy in 2016.
Rheinmetall wanted to buy these tanks. When making the offer, the Germans made it clear that they would be delivered to Ukraine after renovation
– said the spokesperson of Ruag during an interview. The spokesperson added that the company requested preliminary, non-binding information from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, but received a negative response regarding the sale.
The Swiss and German governments said on Friday that Germany has submitted a formal request to the neutral country to buy back some of its previously sold Leopard 2 tanks. The offer for Leopard 2s differs from the current one in that it would fill Germany’s own fleet with them, so in principle it does not violate the neutrality of the Alpine country.
We guarantee that the Leopard 2s purchased from Switzerland will remain in Germany or with our NATO and EU partners. The purpose of the purchase offer is to make up for the deficiencies caused by the transfer of the tanks in our own stock to Ukraine and to improve the supply of spare parts in general
– says the letter dated at the end of February.
Under its neutrality laws and a separate arms embargo Switzerland does not directly send or authorize the delivery of weapons and ammunition sold to other countries to Ukraine.
In the area of neutrality, the Swiss government is under increasing pressure, both from the pro-Ukraine public mood, international public opinion, and representatives of the domestic arms manufacturing industry. Nevertheless, it is likely that the approval process for the offer to purchase Leopard 1s will not pass the Swiss Federal Council.
The cover image is an illustration. Cover image source: Getty Images