KONGSBERG: Norway will send part of its fleet of German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine "as soon as possible", indicating perhaps late March, its defence minister said Monday.

Norway was among several European countries that promised last week to deliver the tanks long sought by Ukraine in its battle against Russian forces, after Berlin gave its blessing despite fears of retaliation by Moscow.

The country has 36 Leopard 2 tanks, but has not said how many it will provide to Kyiv.

"We haven't yet determined the number," Defence Minister Bjorn Arild Gram told AFP.

"It's important that we coordinate closely with our partners, so that this aid makes a real difference for Ukraine," he said.

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"Of course we hope this will be done as quickly as possible," he said during a visit to a production site of the NASAMS anti-aircraft missile batteries in Kongsberg, southeast Norway.

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said last week that Berlin was also aiming to send 14 Leopards to Ukraine in late March or early April, after months of requests from Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Norway and other countries that have purchased Leopard tanks need Berlin's approval if they want to transfer them to another country.

The United States also said last week that it would send 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, which is gearing up for a counteroffensive to push back increasingly entrenched Russians in the east and south of the country.


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