The United States signaled to the federal government some time ago that it would approve the delivery of German Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine.

Two sources with access to confidential information from two countries told the FAZ that the US President's security advisor, Jake Sullivan, had already informed the Chancellor's foreign policy advisor, Jens Plötner, in October.

Konrad Schuller

Political correspondent for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper in Berlin.

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A source said Sullivan told Plotner on the phone that America would welcome Germany to deliver the Leopard 2, but that it should do so at Germany's initiative.

America is not asking Germany to make such deliveries.

The second source said Sullivan signaled Plotner in October that it was "okay" if Germany delivered.

"In constant contact"

The federal government has not denied the information about Sullivan's signals to Plötner.

A spokesman said it was "in constant contact with allies, particularly the US, regarding joint efforts to support Ukraine." The details were "confidential."

It was also said from government circles that each state decides for itself what to deliver.

Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz has repeatedly emphasized that Germany is acting in unison with its closest allies.

It was added: "So far, the US has not delivered any western-style main battle tanks to Ukraine either."

Experts say, however, that there are good arguments for delivering German tanks to Ukraine first.

For example, Gustav Gressel from the European Council on Foreign Relations points out that the Leopard 2 is the standard tank of the Polish Army.

Therefore, Ukraine could have tanks of this type serviced just across the Ukrainian border in Poland.

That is not yet possible with American tanks.

"There are factual reasons to say: the Leopard 2 first," says Gressel.

From the inventories of the manufacturers Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann alone, Germany can provide 80 units at short notice.

Another 30 pieces would be used at the Bundeswehr's combat training center to represent enemy tanks.

They could be replaced by Russian-made tanks from Ukrainian stocks.