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Germany authorized the shipment of anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine on Tuesday, showing a policy shift after months of German leaders blocking the sale.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has come under fire from political rivals and even members of his coalition government for a lack of action in support of Ukraine. The new sale, which will be formally announced later Tuesday, provides Gepard anti-aircraft tanks as well as various anti-tank weapons, according to the Agence France Presse.

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German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht will announce the offer during a meeting with NATO and other Ukrainian allies at the U.S. Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

Soldiers walk amid destroyed Russian tanks in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Sunday.
(AP/Rodrigo Abd)

Scholz first blocked the sale of heavy weapons to Ukraine in February, arguing such a move would escalate tensions with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ukraine has solicited help from any nation that will listen since Russia first invaded the country at the end of February. The U.S. and NATO allies have supplied hundreds of millions of dollars in military and humanitarian aide to the country.

Ukraine announced a deal last week in which companies from the Czech Republic will repair Ukrainian vehicles damaged in the conflict.

The program is focused primarily on refitting Soviet-era T-64 tanks, although the program plans to expand to include BRD and BRDM-type vehicles as well.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin returned from their first trip to Ukraine since the invasion on Monday. Austin stated that Russia had already lost much of its military capability in Ukraine, and Blinken called for Russia to be “weakened” further.

“We want to see Ukraine remain a sovereign country, a democratic country, able to protect its sovereign territory,” Austin said. “We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.”

 

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