Ukraine is set to receive additional main battle tanks after an unknown European country struck a deal with a private party.
The unknown European country bought about 50 Leopard 1 main battle tanks from an individual in Belgium and will be refitting them before shipping them to Ukraine.
Since the first week of June, the Ukrainian military has been trying to breach the Russian defenses in the southeastern part of the country.
Additional tanks will help Ukraine achieve its goal of ending the war as soon as possible.
Leopard 1 Tanks: The Unknown Buyer
An unknown European country bought 49 Leopard 1 main battle tanks from Freddy Versluys, the CEO of OIP Land Systems, a private defense company, for an undisclosed amount of money.
According to Versluys, the unknown buyer intends the tanks for Ukraine, and it will take about six months for them to be refitted and ready for action.
Versluys wouldn’t disclose the name of the country or the sum of the transaction because of a confidentiality clause included in the contract. Reports suggest that the buyer is Germany, which is the original manufacturer of the main battle tank.
The Belgian defense dealer had bought the tanks from Belgium in 2014 for a bit over $40,000 apiece. When the West finally decided to send Ukraine tanks, the Belgian government approached Versluys with a proposal to buy the decommissioned Leopard 1s. The two sides, however, were unable to reach an agreement, and the tanks remained in the defense dealer’s storage facilities gathering dust.
Designed and manufactured during the Cold War, the Leopard 1 main battle tank is a solid weapon system that uses a 105mm main gun and has decent defensive capabilities. Considering that most of the Russian arsenal nowadays is comprised of older weapon systems, refitted Leopard 1s are competitive on the ground and could give Ukraine a much-needed boost in tank numbers.
Western main battle tanks have led the effort, and Kyiv needs more of them as soon as possible.
Ukraine’s Western Battle Tanks
Kyiv has largely kept its 14 Challenger 2s in reserve, waiting to throw them into the fray once there is an operational breakthrough.
On the other hand, Leopard 1s and Leopard 2s have shouldered most of the counteroffensive fighting in the south and the Donbas. As a result, Kyiv has lost a number of these tanks in the fighting, almost exclusively by mines.
In addition, the Ukrainian forces will soon be receiving their first M1A1 Abrams from the United States. The Pentagon is almost done with refitting the 31 M1A1 SA Abrams it has committed to Ukraine and will soon be shipping them to the frontlines. According to the latest estimates, Kyiv will receive the M1A1 Abrams sometime in September.
With no end in sight, Ukraine will need more tanks to sustain its goal of liberating the entire country, including the Crimean Peninsula, from Russian occupation.
A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations and a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ). He holds a BA from the Johns Hopkins University, an MA from the Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and is pursuing a J.D. at Boston College Law School. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.
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