This is a first victory for kyiv. After weeks of sirens on its needs in heavy armament, and in particular in tanks, Ukraine will finally receive what it asks for. Berlin and Washington have indeed announced the delivery of Leopard and Abrams tanks in support of the Ukrainian army which aims to push the Russian enemy out of its borders.
Before Germany and the United States, the United Kingdom had taken the lead in promising such deliveries, while Poland was no longer waiting for the green light from Berlin. France, in all this, applauds these decisions but did not follow the movement. For the moment, the question of the delivery of the Leclerc tanks has not been decided. To see more clearly on who does what in support of heavy armor in Ukraine, 20 minutes takes stock of the various announcements of recent days.
The Leopard 2s in force
After long weeks of dithering, Berlin said “yes”. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has given the go-ahead for the delivery of German Leopard tanks. The manager created a surprise by announcing the delivery of 14 more advanced Leopard 2s of the 2A6 model, taken from the German army’s stock. They will be delivered from “end of March, beginning of April,” said Defense Minister Boris Pistorius. The training of Ukrainian soldiers in the handling of light armored Marders will begin “by the end of January” in Germany and the training on the Leopards will follow “a little later”, he added.
Thanks to this green light, other European countries will also be able to strengthen the Ukrainian stock. Poland had been waiting for Germany’s agreement for several days. Warsaw will also be able to deliver 14 Leopard 2A4 tanks. Canada announced on Thursday the delivery of four “combat-ready” Leopard 2 tanks which “will be deployed in the coming weeks”, according to Defense Minister Anita Anand. Norway has also promised Ukraine Leopard 2s. According to several media, the coalition of countries ready to provide such armored vehicles also includes Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland. Spain has also confirmed that it is “willing” to deliver tanks as well.
The Leopard 2 combines firepower, mobility and protection. This combat tank of about sixty tons is equipped with a smooth cannon of caliber 120 mm allowing to fight the enemy while moving. It is also equipped, according to the manufacturer, with “integral passive protection” effective against mines and rocket launchers. Its crew of four also benefits from technological tools allowing it to locate and target the enemy at long distance.
The American Abrams, “the most powerful in the world”
In the wake of the German announcement, the United States has also promised to join the effort. Washington announced the dispatch of 31 Abrams to Ukraine. However, this delivery should not take place for “several months”, according to the spokesman for the National Security Council of the White House, John Kirby.
The announcement is a turnaround for the United States, which until now has been reluctant to provide its most advanced heavy tanks to kyiv. It’s about “helping Ukraine defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Joe Biden said in a brief speech. “This is not an offensive threat against Russia,” he insisted.
Just last week, the Pentagon’s number three, Colin Kahl, pointed out that the Abrams tank was “a very complicated piece of equipment”. “It’s expensive, it requires tough training, it has a jet engine. I believe it consumes 11 liters of kerosene per km,” explained the Undersecretary of Defense for Strategy. “It’s not the easiest system to maintain,” he added.
Fourteen British Challengers
If the West has already sent light armor to kyiv, the United Kingdom has become the first country to commit to kyiv to send this type of armor. London has already announced on Saturday January 14 the delivery to Ukraine of 14 Challenger 2 heavy tanks.
The head of British diplomacy James Cleverly this decision to help the country “repel” the Russians in the east and south of the country, saying that London will support the Ukrainians until “victory”. “We recognize that they need a strong defense capability in the east and in the south,” areas that Russia is trying to control, he said.
The Leclercs still pending
For its part, despite the broadcast of a video in the form of an ode to the French Leclerc tanks by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, the French government has not yet taken a decision on the subject of sending its own heavy tanks. However, Paris is not ruling it out, as French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne repeated on Wednesday. “Nothing is excluded and we are mobilized to support them over the long term,” she said during the current affairs session in the Senate. “Regarding the Leclerc tanks, we are continuing the analysis with the Minister for the Armed Forces”.
Regarding these tanks comparable to the German Leopard, Emmanuel Macron issued three criteria: “that it is not escalatory”, “that it can provide real and effective support” to the Ukrainians taking into account the training times, and that it does not weaken French defense capabilities.
According to French officials, if the current discussions have established that sending this type of tank would not be “escalatory”, discussions are still underway on the other two criteria. These officials seem at this stage reserved on the usefulness of sending Leclercs, whose training times are long and which exist in Europe in much smaller numbers than the Leopards. In any case, no decision on this subject is expected in the very short term, we warn in Paris.