Berlin, Jan 24: Germany's defence minister said Tuesday that allies could start training Ukrainian forces to use Leopard tanks, as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg predicted that a decision on their delivery would be made "soon". 

Germany has been under intense international pressure in recent weeks to allow the export of powerful German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine to help it repel Russia's invasion. Berlin has so far declined to give permission despite a growing clamour from many of its allies.

But Defence Minister Boris Pistorius indicated Tuesday that a decision could be imminent, revealing that he had "expressly encouraged partner countries that have Leopard tanks that are ready for deployment to train Ukrainian forces on these tanks".

"I expect a decision to bemade shortly," he added ahead of a meeting with Stoltenberg in Berlin. Stoltenberg welcomed the "clear message" from the minister, "because after a decision has been taken on the delivery on battle tanks, it will take some time to... make them ready" and to train Ukrainian soldiers to use them.

He added that he expected a decision "soon". "We must provide heavier and more advanced systems to Ukraine, and we must do it faster," Stoltenberg said. Moscow has shown no signs of changing course in its invasion, he added. "We have no indication that President (Vladimir) Putin has changed his goals... The only way to lasting peace is to make it clear to Putin that he will not win on the battlefield," he said.

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