Leopard 2 and Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks to Ukraine?
On the Ukraine security assistance front, Poland stated that it wouldn’t provide Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine unless there is a concentered international coalition.
Finland was the first to say that it is willing to send Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, but only if other European countries join in.
Germany, which manufactures the Leopard, has also signaled a willingness to send tanks to Ukraine.
Also, the United Kingdom is deliberating sending Challenger 2 tanks.
Russian Forces in Belarus
Over the weekend, the Belarussian Ministry of Defense announced that a significant tactical flight exercise between Belarussian and Russian forces would take place from late January to early February. The Russian military has deployed more than a dozen helicopters in Belarus, including Mi-8 transport and Mi-24 and Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopters. According to the British Military Intelligence, some of the helicopters sport the “Z” war marking that Russian forces are using on the ground in Ukraine.
“The new deployment of Russian aircraft to Belarus is likely a genuine exercise, rather than a preparation for any additional offensive operations against Ukraine,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
For some months now, the Russian military has been gathering forces in Belarus.
“Although Russia maintains a large number of forces in Belarus, they are mostly involved in training. They are unlikely to constitute a credible offensive force,” the British Military Intelligence added.
In December, the Ukrainian Military Intelligence (GUR) sounded the alarm and warned that the Russian military might try to mount a large-scale offensive sometime in January or February. The Ukrainians specifically mentioned that Kyiv might be one of the targets. If that assessment proves accurate, Belarus will once more be an important proxy of Russia. When the invasion began, after all, the main Russian thrust aimed at Kyiv was staged from Belarus.
Despite being an obvious Russian proxy, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko has managed to keep his country out of the war in Ukraine. To be sure, he has enabled the war by allowing Russian forces to operate from within his borders and to launch ballistic and cruise missiles against Ukraine. But Lukashenko has kept his sizeable military outside from direct fighting.
The Russian Casualties
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Wednesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 112,960 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, 2,078 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, 217 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,862 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.
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.