Poland to Unleash the Leopard 2 Tanks in Ukraine – For months, Kyiv has been pleading with the West to send main battle tanks (MBTs) – which have been considered crucial to Ukraine’s efforts to drive out Russian forces from occupied territories.
Last week, the UK announced it would supply around a dozen Challenger 2 MBTs, and on Monday, it now looks like the final roadblock has been removed for Poland to send its German-made Leopard 2 as well.
Leopard 2 Is Coming Soon?
Warsaw had essentially made it clear it would ask for permission but planned to send them whether or not Berlin actually agreed.
Pressure has been mounting on Germany to approve re-exports of the Leopard 2. Latvia’s foreign minister also supported the calls to allow the tanks to be sent and in a meeting of Western officials last week said, “there are no good arguments” for why the MBTs couldn’t be provided.
A Game Changer for Ukraine
Considered among the very best MBTs in service in the world today, the Leopard 2 could be a potential game changer for Ukraine’s forces, especially as it could operate alongside other Western-made armored vehicles, including the U.S.-made M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the French AMX-10 RC wheeled tank destroyer and the German Marder Infantry Fighting Vehicle.
Such a combination of armor could tip the balance of power towards Kyiv.
Both sides appear to be planning a spring offensive to break the deadlock and the war of attrition that military analysts have compared to the fighting along the Western Front during the First World War.
In that conflict over a hundred years ago, tanks helped break the enemy lines but proved even more critical for a war of mobility a generation later during the Second World War.
It may seem a bit ironic that German tanks had fought some of the most significant armored battles of World War II against Russian forces in what is present-day Ukraine. That is likely a factor in Berlin’s hesitance to supply its own Leopard 2 MBTs – as it could serve as a reminder to Germany’s Nazi past.
However, the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) has suggested that European tanks could allow Kyiv to take back its territory and be a true sign of European unity – this has been dubbed the “Leopard Plan.”
As more than a dozen nations operate the tanks, the ECFR noted that if each donated a few tanks it would ease the burden on the collective countries.
More Leopards to be Let Loose?
The Leopard 2 is also seen as among the best option for Ukraine – in addition to the larger numbers available, it uses less fuel than the turbine-powered U.S. M1 Abrams.
“But of course all countries which take part, directly or indirectly, in pumping weapons into Ukraine and in raising its technological level bear responsibility” for continuing the conflict, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
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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.