The German Ministry of Defense announced on Monday that 18 Leopard 2 battle tanks have arrived in Ukraine. The tanks were promised to Ukraine in January after months of speculation about which European country might be the first to supply them.
Writing on Twitter, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said that the tanks would make a “decisive contribution” on the frontlines in Ukraine.
Leopard 2 tanks are considered some of the best modern main battle tanks in Europe. In the wake of the announcement, Ukraine’s ambassador to France announced that several European countries had pledged more than 300 tanks to Ukraine.
“As of today, numerous countries have officially confirmed their agreement to deliver 321 heavy tanks to Ukraine,” Ambassador Vadym Omelchenko told French television at the time. Among those pledged to Ukraine were 31 M1 Abrams tanks from the United States and 14 Challenger 2 tanks from the United Kingdom.
On Monday, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov also confirmed that the first batch of Britain’s Challenger tanks has been transferred to the Ukrainian military. A Facebook post showed the Ukrainian politician testing our new equipment from the U.K.
The post included a photograph showing tanks and military vehicles sent by several European allies and the United States.
“Today, together with the commander of the Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Major General Maxim ‘Mike’ Myrhorodsky, and our paratroopers, I had the honor of running a new addition to our armored units. Challengers from Britain, Strykers & Cougars from the USA and Marders from Germany,” Reznikov wrote, adding that he personally drove the Challenger.
“By the way, after personally ‘piloting’ the Challenger, as a participant in trophy raids, I can say that even the driver of a Rolls Royce will not be as comfortable as the crew of this work of martial art on off-road,” he continued.
Ukrainian troops returned home this week after completing training in the United Kingdom to use the Challenger 2 tanks. Training began earlier this year after British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the pledge to send more than a dozen of the tanks to Ukraine. Soldiers are understood to have completed training in multiple locations across the United Kingdom.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said over the weekend that the soldiers will now “return to their homeland better equipped, but to no less danger.”
Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.