More than 14 months after Russia launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the war isn’t likely going as anyone could have expected.
Ukraine has received far more support from the West, and could soon be operating some of the most advanced military hardware developed by NATO – while Russia has been “going backward” as it is forced to rely on antiquated equipment and vehicles that were developed and produced during the Cold War.
That fact has been widely reported by the media, but a lesser-told part of the story is the efforts to maintain what is in service.
For the most part, it seems that Russian forces have made little effort to recover damaged or disabled tanks, and instead are relying on stocks of older vehicles.
Ukraine, as the underdog, has from the beginning sought to return vehicles – including those captured by the Kremlin’s forces – back to the fight.
Keeping Them Running
There are now reports that Kyiv will get additional support to maintain its main battle tanks (MBTs), and to upgrade the older vehicles being pledged to aid in its war efforts.
The Czech Republic announced earlier this month that it will increase the modernization efforts of the Cold War-era Soviet T-72 tanks that were in the arsenals of former Warsaw Pact nations that have been donated to Kyiv.
Ukraine had already received 37 modernized T-72s as part of a military aid package financed by the United States and the Netherlands, while Prague has proposed setting up a center for maintenance, repair, and overhaul of heavy equipment with support from the private sector.
In neighboring Poland, there are now efforts underway to expand a maintenance hub for the German-made Leopard 2 MBTs being provided to Ukraine.
The facility, which will start operating in May, will be located at the Bumar-Labedy defense enterprise in Gliwice, Poland.
It already has two decades of experience in the maintenance and repair of the Polish Army’s Leopard 2A4 tanks. It can also repair T-72 tanks.
A number of NATO members have pledged to provide Kyiv with a number of Leopard 2s – considered one of the best MBTs in service in the world today.
Ukraine already received two battalions of Leopard 2 tanks in the A4 and A6 variants.
While damaged tanks will have to be recovered, and then transported back to Poland, it will ensure that Ukraine’s tank force will be better maintained than anything being employed by the Russian Army.
Even as the Leopard 2 could soon head into actual combat, a different kind of battle is now being waged over the German-made MBT. Reports circulated on Tuesday that the two German firms – Rheinmetall AG and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann – that produced the tank are now embroiled in a legal spat over its intellectual property (IP) rights.
A hearing is due to take place at a Munich court on May 2.
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.