Germany to send seven additional Gepard tanks to Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz poses in front of a German self-propelled anti-aircraft gun Flakpanzer Gepard during a visit of the training program for Ukrainian soldiers on the Gepard anti-aircraft tank in Putlos near Oldenburg, Germany August 25, 2022. Axel Heimken/Pool via REUTERS

BERLIN, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Germany is preparing to deliver seven Gepard tanks to Ukraine, adding to the 30 air-defence tanks that are already being used to fight against the Russian army, according to a German government website.

According to Spiegel magazine, which first reported the number of additional tanks, the seven Gepards, which were initially destined for the scrap pile, should arrive in Ukraine in Spring 2023 and are currently being repaired by Munich-based arms manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW).

The government did not say when it planned to deliver the tanks, which it said have come from manufacturers' stocks and whose deliveries in some cases depend on repair measures or production still being ongoing.

KMW was not immediately available for comment.

The German government also aims to send more ammunition for the Gepards along with the additional tanks, Spiegel reported.

Supply of ammunition for the Gepard has proven problematic as Switzerland, which has stocks of ammunition, refuses to supply it, citing its neutral status.

The government was holding talks with various manufacturers on trying to procure more ammunition and could potentially come to the situation where Switzerland was no longer needed, said a defence ministry spokesperson at a news conference on Friday.

Ukraine has urged its Western partners to supply it with air defence systems and transformers to blunt Russian strikes on its power grid and heating infrastructure since early October.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a security conference in Berlin on Thursday that allies agreed on the urgent need to help Ukraine, including with air defence systems, but it was important that those systems being delivered could operate, including having enough ammunition, spare parts and maintenance.

Reporting by Miranda Murray and Andreas Rinke, editing by Rachel More and Alex Richardson

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