Germany will not be able to immediately replace tanks that it is providing to Ukraine, the country's defence minister has said, as Russia claimed to have destroyed or captured some of them.

Berlin earlier this year started sending advanced Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine, after months of pleas from Kyiv for the heavy weapons to bolster its fightback against Russia.

Defence Minister Boris Pistorius told broadcaster RTL, in an interview aired late Monday, that "we will not be able to replace every tank that is now out of action".

He refused to confirm the authenticity of images circulating online purportedly showing some of the tanks damaged in battle.

But he added that "unfortunately it is the nature of war that weapons are destroyed, that tanks are destroyed and people are killed.

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"That is why our support for Ukraine is so important."

Moscow said Tuesday that it had captured several Leopard tanks and US Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, releasing footage showing Russian troops surveying the equipment.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian and German politicians have been calling for rapid resupply of tanks given the destruction of the armaments.

Pistorius said Berlin would continue to supply the less advanced Leopard 1 tanks, and there would be over 100 by the end of the year.

After coming under sustained pressure, Berlin in January agreed that the German-made tanks could be sent to Ukraine.

The government has so far delivered 18 of the advanced Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

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Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year, Germany has dropped a traditionally pacifist stance and sent a vast array of weaponry to Kyiv, from air defence to artillery systems.

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