Arms manufacturer Rheinmetall is holding “promising” talks to build a tank factory in Ukraine following the Russian invasion, the head of the German company said in an interview published Saturday.
“A Rheinmetall factory could be built in Ukraine at a cost of about 200 million euros” ($213 million) to turn out up to 400 Panther tanks a year, the firm’s president Armin Papperger told the Rheinische Post newspaper.
He added that he expected a decision on the plan in two months, saying such a site could be protected from Russian attack by an air defense system.
Ukraine wants between 600 and 800 tanks to drive Russian troops out of the country, and it wants them quickly.
“Even if Germany offered the Bundeswehr’s 300 Leopard 2 tanks, it would be nowhere near enough,” he said, referring to the German army.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz came under fire for delaying a decision on supplying Ukraine with German Leopard assault tanks before agreeing at the end of January.
Berlin has agreed to supply 18 Leopard 2 A6s from the Bundeswehr and approved the re-export of German-made Leopards to Ukraine from other states, including Sweden, Finland, Portugal, and Poland.
The plan would see more than 30 Leopards shipped to Kyiv.
Rheinmetall is also working to line up nearly 250 tanks, many going to the Czech Republic and Slovakia to replace Russian-made armored vehicles, as well as to the Bundeswehr and Ukraine, said Papperger.