Leopard 2 Tank Delays Look Likely: Like spring, a Ukrainian offensive is likely coming – but it could be delayed just a bit.
First, there have been reports that the late winter blizzard that hit much of the Donbas region, along with heavy rains, has resulted in the early spring mud.
Of course, the mud has also bogged down Russia’s late winter offensive as well.
Leopard 2 Tank Delays
The bigger issue for Kyiv is that it may not have the main battle tanks (MBTs) it needs to launch such an attack.
As recently reported, Ukraine is already forming three new corps-sized units to consolidate its numerous brigades into larger formations in preparation for an armored counteroffensive.
But it may have to wait until next month for some of the German-made Leopard 2 MBTs to arrive.
It was reported on Wednesday that six of the Leopard 2A4 promised by Spain would only be sent to Ukraine in the second half of April. The tanks, which haven’t been in service since the 1990s and have spent more than two decades in mothballs, must undergo a refit and refurbishment before they’re ready for combat.
Germany, Poland, and Portugal have also promised to send a total of 48 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine – far better than nothing, but also far short of the 300 to 400 modern MBTs that Kyiv has said it will need to push back and more importantly, drive out the Russian forces.
Ukraine is Ready
Even though the tanks will need more time to arrive, the Ukrainian military is ready. Dozens of its soldiers have already completed four weeks of training on the Leopard 2A4, and a total of 40 tank crews along with 15 mechanic specialists were trained at a Spanish military base in Zaragoza.
Once the tanks arrive, along with other Western aid – which includes a variety of vehicles, small arms, and other equipment – a major push could be launched by Kyiv. The German Leopard 2s are certainly expected to play a major role in the expected counteroffensive, a fact that Kyiv hasn’t tried to conceal. Instead, it is clear, when the Leopard 2s arrive, it will be employed to claw back the occupied territory.
“You will see Leopards in a counterattack by the decision of our General Staff. It is already planned in several directions,” Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov recently told reporters.
An Epic Tank Battle Brewing?
There have been reports that Russian T-90 tanks could also be headed to the front, but it is unclear is that is simply Kremlin propaganda.
It is known that Russia has been sending older tanks to the front lines – so a significant tank battle could take place sometime in the very near future.
Kyiv may have an advantage, even if it lacks the numbers, as it could have vastly superior tanks.
“The Ukrainians have inflicted significant losses on the Russians and depleted their armored vehicles in a way no one could have imagined. And now we see Russia decommissioning T-54 and T-55 tanks because of the level of losses that the Ukrainians inflicted upon them,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told the lawmakers during a recent Senate Arms Services Committee hearing
The fighting in the besieged city of Bakhmut has been compared to the Battle of Stalingrad during the Second World War, and it may be possible that a 21st-century version of the Battle of Kursk – the largest tank battle of the same conflict – could soon play out as well.
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.