Bundeswehr begins training of Ukrainian Leopard 2 tank crews

Soldiers of the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence battalion with German Leopard 2 tanks take part in the NATO military exercise in Lithuania in 2017. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)
By Dénes Albert
2 Min Read

The German army (Bundeswehr) has started a new training program for Ukrainian forces defending against a Russian attack on Ukraine, it was announced in Berlin on Monday.

A spokesman for the federal defense ministry said the training program for Ukrainian soldiers will be held at the tank training center in Munster, Lower Saxony, and will include exercises on Leopard 2 tanks. The program will run until the end of March. Ukrainian soldiers will also be trained in the use of the Marder infantry fighting vehicle as part of a support program launched earlier.

According to reports in the German press, the first group of Ukrainian soldiers learning to use the Leopard 2, considered to be one of the most modern and powerful combat vehicles in the world, arrived in Germany at the end of last week, having been transported by the Luftwaffe from Poland.

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In the Bundeswehr, full training normally takes several years. A shortened course of 6-8 weeks has been organized for the Ukrainian soldiers, during which they will learn the basics of operating the modern tank.

The German government decided in early February to add 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks to a range of heavy weapons, including Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled howitzers, as well as Marder and Gepard armored fighting vehicles, to help defend against the Russian attack and to coordinate efforts with partner countries also supporting Ukraine with Leopard 2s. The support package includes training, ammunition, transport, and maintenance.

It was recently announced that 14 tanks from the Bundeswehr’s inventory will be ready for deployment in Ukraine by the end of March. The government has also recently decided to support Ukrainian forces with the previous model, the Leopard 1. Plans call for more than 100 of these tanks to be delivered to Ukraine.

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