Germany is offering Poland outdated tanks that need modernization, says military expert

Germany was to compensate for the tanks Poland is sending to Ukraine by providing the Poles with modern Leopards, but it turns out that there will be fewer of them than planned and they are not combat-ready, says defense analyst Jarosław Wolski

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: Marcin Koziestański
Soldiers of the NATO enhanced forward presence battalion with German Leopard 2 tank take part in the NATO military exercise in Lithuania in 2017. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

As a result of internal agreements within NATO, countries from the Central and Eastern Europe region such as Poland and Czechia have provided Ukraine with post-Soviet tanks. Germany was to compensate these nations by providing them Leopard tanks. While Czechia has agreed to receive an older version of the Leopards, Poland, which has sent over 200 of its tanks to Ukraine, has not reached such an agreement with Germany. According to Der Spiegel, Polish-German talks on the matter have reached a dead end

Defense analyst Jarosław Wolski says that “Germany was adamant that it can make up for the needed tanks, but now it turns out that although they can deliver tanks, their numbers are not sufficient to offset those sent to Ukraine, and those that are on offer are not combat-ready.” 

Wolski also stated that the German offer to send an older version of the Leopard tank than originally requested is not an attractive option for Poland.

The vehicles offered, though an improvement on the post-Soviet T-72 tanks sent by Poland to Ukraine, still date back to the mid-1980s, and spare parts are no longer even made for them.

“The tanks require upgrading and are actually older and require more work than the Leopards Poland is already modernizing; they are also nowhere near the standard of the Abrams tanks Poland has ordered from the US,” says the expert.

Asked whether Poland could still receive the more modern version of the Leopard tank it sought, Wolski is unsure, given the attitude of the Germans on the matter.

He argues that since Poland has transferred 30 percent of its tank capacity to Ukraine, there is a gap to be filled; otherwise, Poland’s security will be at risk.

Wolski rejects the idea that Poland should, like the Czechs, accept the older models of the Leopard tanks.

The Czechs were to receive these older tanks for training purposes anyway, as they are actually in the process of buying the more modern Leopard tanks from German suppliers; some of these will actually be assembled in Czechia.

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