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Putin Should Worry: Leopard 2 Tanks Are Headed to Ukraine

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A Norwegian Leopard 2A4 main battle tank during Iron Wolf II in Lithuania. It involves 2,300 troops from 12 NATO Allies. The Lithuanian-led exercise is helping to train the NATO Battlegroup which consists of soldiers from Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway. Shot in Rukla, Lithuania.

On day 323 of the conflict, the Russian military has a new commander on the ground while Ukraine is set to receive Western main battle tanks – as in the Leopard 2 tank and others.

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Change of Command

On Wednesday, Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu announced that the Chief of the General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov, will be assuming overall command of the Russian forces in Ukraine, replacing General Sergei Surovikin.

The latter’s command lasted only three months but showed some promising signs for Moscow.

The overall commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces managed to withdraw from Kherson City and the western bank of the Dnipro River in an orderly manner.

Surovikin, moreover, was able to stabilize the front after a loss of hundreds of square miles in the east and south in just a few days.

To be sure, the rains and mud of autumn helped the former Russian commander. But luck is an important part of military operations. Nevertheless, Surovikin (who had the support of the Wagner Group) couldn’t achieve what the Kremlin wanted; namely, the capture of Bakhmut in the Donbas. 

Gerasimov will likely preside over a disorganized command structure plagued by endemic, persistent, and self-reinforcing failures that he largely set into motion in his initial role before the invasion of Ukraine,” the Institute for the Study of War assessed in its latest estimate of the war.

The appointment of the top general of the Russian Armed Forces as overall commander of the fighting in Ukraine is likely a sign of future large-scale Russian offensives once the weather permits.

Following the partial mobilization of the reserves in September, Moscow has created a reserve of approximately 150,000 troops.

Leopard 2 Main Battle Tanks to Ukraine 

On Wednesday, Poland announced that it would provide 14 Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine.

Even a whole company of Leopard 2 main battle tanks won’t make a big difference on the ground. However, it might be the first delivery out of many. 

Finland was the first to say that it was willing to provide Leopard 2s to Ukraine if another European country joined in. Thus Poland’s decision likely means more of the same type of tanks to Ukraine.

Moreover, the United Kingdom has been deliberating sending Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Kyiv. Poland’s decision might provide enough political momentum for London to follow suit. 

Meanwhile, the U.S. remains reluctant to send M1 Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine.

Arguably the best fighting tank in the world, the M1 Abrams could make the difference in the upcoming Ukrainian offensives that are set to begin once the weather permits. 

Russian Casualties in Ukraine

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Thursday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 113,990 Russian troops (and wounded approximately twice to thrice that number), destroyed 285 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 275 attack and transport helicopters, 3,094 tanks, 2,082 artillery pieces, 6,159 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 437 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 16 boats and cutters, 4,826 vehicles and fuel tanks, 218 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,865 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 184 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 723 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses. 

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Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. 

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.