In recent weeks, the Ukrainian government has concentrated on one word its appeals to the countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for more military aid: tanks.
It is “a very important word for our defense, for our State, for our army, for the common defense of Ukraine and all of Europe”, said the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, on January 11.
Among the great variety of armored vehicles from the West, or German Leopard 2, operated by several European countries, turned to the most procured weapons by the Ukrainian government after Poland offered to send their vehicles.
The delivery of tanks to Ukraine has been the subject of intense debate among the member countries of NATO, with positions in favor of aid to kyiv, and others against it due to the possible escalation with Russia that this action could generate.
A dispute within NATO over the shipment of tanks, whether Leopard 2, M1 Abrams or the British Challenger, escalated to such a point that John Kirby, strategic communications coordinator for the US National Security Council, downplayed their importance.
“Saying that a discussion about tanks is dividing the alliance or in some way placing the national security in Ukraine at risk is simply an exaggeration,” declared the White House authority for Christiane Amanpour, da CNN.
Manufacturer of the Leopard 2, Germany announced at the fourth fair (25) that it would make or send two pieces of equipment.
Understand the importance of two Leopard 2 tanks
Ukraine has a fleet of Soviet-project (and, in some cases, Soviet-made) tanks that have suffered heavy losses in the fighting since the beginning of the war, on February 24, 2022.
In recent months, kyiv has been asking Western countries – and especially NATO members – to send more modern tanks. With these weapons, Ukraine hopes to replace losses, deal with attacks by two Russian armored vehicles and break the front lines to mount counter-attacks, as they were carried out in Kherson and Kharkiv at the end of 2022. There are operations for which these weapons are more suitable.
Armed with a 120 mm smooth diameter barrel, the Leopard 2 can reach speeds of up to 70 km/h, or 50 km/h offroad, making maneuverability one of its main characteristics.
It is protected by advanced armor concentrated in the front, according to the German manufacturer Krauss-Maffei-Wegmann. Embora entered service in 1979, its most recent versions –such as the Leopard 2 A7– are still considered top-of-the-line for their fire power, mobility, armor and systems. They are capable of facing the most advanced tanks of Russia.
Yes, its older versions – like the Leopard 2 A4 – remain relatively competitive in certain scenarios, even more when they receive updates.
The Leopard 2 was exported to Germany for many countries and used in combat against insurgent forces in Afghanistan, the Balkans and Syria (used in Turkey), but an eventual implantation in Ukraine would be the first time that German armor would face Russian tanks such as or T-72, T-80 and T-90.
Thirteen countries in Europe, including Poland and Finland, possess Leopard 2 tanks, according to the group of specialists of the Conselho Europeu das Relações Externas. Not total, there are about 2,000 Leopard 2 supported throughout Europe, at different levels of modernization and preparation for use.
Many European countries will agree to re-export some tanks to kyiv, but require permission from Germany. Representatives of countries that possess Leopard tanks will meet in a parallel meeting at the American air base of Ramstein, in Germany, second to the Ministry of Defense of Portugal.
With the huge fleet of tanks available in countries close to Ukraine, the relatively low maintenance demands of the Leopard 2 in comparison with other models and its more efficient use of diesel, are factors that make us see which specialists we see as best suited to help. to Ukraine or as fast as possible.
Poland has a large fleet of Leopard 2 A4 and A5 tanks, which was in the process of modernization, according to the site of the Polish Armed Forces. Not so, in recent times, the Polish government also seems to have opted to update its forces with the purchase of American M1 Abrams and South Korean K2 tanks.
(With reporting by Rob Picheta, Antonia Mortensen, Kevin Liptak, Brad Lendon, Yoonjung Seo and Joseph Ataman)
Source: CNN Espanol