Lithuania seeks to buy Leopard 2 tanks from Germany

VILNIUS (Reuters) – Lithuania’s Defence Council has decided to initiate negotiations to buy Leopard 2 tanks from Germany, Defence Minister Arvydas Anusauskas told reporters on Tuesday, as the NATO member seeks to build a tank battalion.

The Leopard 2 is made by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, part of German-French technology group KNDS.

“Our intention is creating a tank battalion, but much will depend on conditions, such as what price we agree on. So I can‘t name any details yet,” he said.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, NATO has pledged to strengthen its presence on the alliance’s eastern border.

Lithuania, a neighbour of Russia and Moscow’s close ally Belarus, currently does not operate tanks. The new tank unit is scheduled to be combat-ready by 2030.

Germany has committed to permanently deploy a combat-ready brigade of about 4,800 soldiers in Lithuania by 2027, which will be the first permanent foreign deployment of German troops since World War Two.

It has headed the international NATO force of more than 1,000 troops in the country since 2017.

Lithuania recently took final delivery of a 670 million-euro-order ($727.71 million) of 91 German-made Boxer armoured fighting vehicles, which it ordered in 2016.

($1 = 0.9207 euros)

(Reporting by Andrius Sytas, editing by Terje Solsvik, Louise Rasmussen and Sharon Singleton)