Ukraine could soon have some of the best tanks on Earth to fight Russia – The Finnish government is deciding this week whether it would supply Ukraine with a number of main battle tanks (MBTs).
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Earlier this month, France took the bold step of announcing that it would provide Kyiv with a number of AMX-10 RC armored combat vehicles. Though wheeled rather than tracked vehicles, the AMX-10 RC is designated as a “light tank” by the French military. It is armed with a 105mm F2 BK MECA L/47 main gun, and while lightly armored can be employed in a tank destroyer role.
Push for the Leopard 2 to Ukraine
France and Poland are not reported to be pushing Germany to equip Ukraine with the tanks. However, Berlin – which announced last week that it would send 40 of Marder fighting vehicles – has not committed to supplying Ukraine with the Leopard 2, considered to be among the very best MBTs in service in the world today.
“Of course, it can’t be ruled out,” Robert Habeck, Germany’s economy minister told German broadcaster ARD earlier this week.
The third-generation Leopard 2 was originally developed by Krauss-Maffei in the 1970s for the West German army. It entered service in 1979, succeeding the earlier Leopard 2 as the nation’s primary MBT. It is armed with a 120 mm smoothbore cannon made by Rheinmetall, and is powered by a V-12 twin-turbo diesel engine made by MTU Friedrichshafen.
In addition to service with the German Bundeswehr, it is operated by more than a dozen nations around the world.
Helsinki Will Follow
The Finnish government appears to be willing to follow but not lead on the decision to send an MBT to Ukraine. The government in Helsinki is waiting for decisions from Germany and other major powers. The chair of the Finnish parliament’s Defence Committee, Antti Häkkänen said that if there is a broader consensus in Europe on delivering battle tanks to Ukraine, Finland should do the same.
To date, Finland’s military aid to Ukraine has amounted to around €190 million ($204 million).
However, the number of tanks that Finland might provide remains another unknown. Finland could only transfer a limited number of MBTs, as its military would need to maintain a significant number for its own defenses.
Standing Up to Russia
Though an invasion from Russia would seem unlikely, especially as Finland is on track to become an official member of NATO – and any attack would bring the entire alliance into the conflict under Article Five – Helsinki isn’t willing to take a chance.
It is not alone in such a course of action.
The Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – all NATO members as well – have respectively increased military spending. The three nations had been under the control of Moscow for centuries, with only a brief period of independence from 1919 to 1940 before again declaring independence with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.