After much speculation, Berlin will supply a company of 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks to Ukraine from the German Army’s own stock, the German government announced in a statement on Wednesday.
The federal government announced its aim is to send a total of 2 battalions, equating to 84 units, to the war-torn country in cooperation with other countries. In addition to the shipment, Berlin will also provide training, ammunition, and maintenance to Ukraine.
The decision will also allow other countries to donate Leopards bought from Germany to Kyiv, subject in principle to Berlin’s permission under German law. Poland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Spain, and Portugal have all made statements of intent to supply the units to Ukrainian President Zelensky’s troops subject to German approval.
On Wednesday evening, U.S. President Joe Biden also confirmed the United States will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to the Ukrainian armed forces.
Hungarian defense analyst Ferenc Kaiser told the Magyar Nemzet newspaper how these tanks could benefit Ukraine in the war.
“These tanks are 10 to 12 tons heavier than the Russian vehicles, with armor in critical areas that allows them to offer much greater protection,” Kaiser said.
“In addition to the approximately 5 to 7 tons of additional armor, the length of the gun barrel has been increased from the A5 upwards (the most modern version is the A7+), which allows the Leopard 2 to fire more accurately and have a much higher armor penetration. It is important to point out that Western tanks have much more advanced technology and electronics than Russian ones,” Kaiser added.
Kaiser explained the number of tanks the West has so far pledged is way below the 500 tanks Ukraine is asking for, and it will take time to train Ukrainian soldiers to use these tanks, as they are radically different from the Russian models Ukraine currently has.
Nevertheless, Kaiser said these tanks could be very useful in halting a Russian spring offensive.
“Attacking against a reinforced defense is only worthwhile with tank support. A tank is basically a well-armored, self-propelled bunker that can shoot down fortified defenses and the enemy’s heavy equipment.
“All experts expect a major Russian offensive in the spring, and troop movements support this. The main task of the new tanks will be to stop this offensive,” he added.