What’s stopping German-made Leopard 2 tanks in Ukraine? | explanatory news

Germany is under intense pressure to provide Ukraine with its Leopard 2 tanks, which could have a significant impact against the Russian invasion.

The European allies have already sent hundreds of modernized Soviet tanks to Ukraine since the war began nearly 11 months ago. But Kyiv has advocated for more advanced military equipment to take the lead in the fight against Russia.

The United States and its allies did not agree to supply the coveted German main battle tanks to Ukraine in a meeting on Friday, as Russia continued to issue threats that the conflict could escalate in Europe.

Leopard 2 tanks are considered to be one of the best performing models worldwide and are widely used throughout Europe.

Why are leopards so coveted?

The Leopard was first produced in the late 1970s to replace the American M48 Patton and soon became renowned for its firepower, mobility, and tough armor.

Leopard 2 is “kind of like the [Volkswagen] Golf of the German tank industry: an all-rounder with worldwide recognition”, according to the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Around 3,500 of the 60-ton main battle tanks, developed by the German arms manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), have been produced.

The tanks are armed with a 120mm smoothbore gun and can move at speeds of up to 70 kilometers (44 miles) per hour with a range of 500 km (310 miles). They also provide “full protection” for troops against threats such as mines, anti-tank fire and improvised explosive devices, according to the manufacturer.

The last four models produced are still in use, from the 2A4 to the 2A7.

What is stopping the supply?

Germany has been reluctant to provide the tanks to Ukraine because of the anti-militarist stance it took after World War II. However, the pressure has been mounting on Germany and they have put themselves in a difficult position.

Poland has expressed its willingness to send 14 Leopard tanks to Ukraine as part of an international coalition. Finland said it does not oppose the shipments.

But countries cannot ship the tanks without Germany’s approval, as they are supplied with a German license.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki suggested that Poland could send Leopard tanks to Ukraine without German approval.

It is not yet clear how fast the tanks would arrive. German arms maker Rheinmetall, which makes the Leopard’s barrel and electronics and has dozens of older models, has said it won’t be able to deliver any of the tanks until 2024 due to the need for refurbishment and repair.

What does Russia say?

Some analysts have said that supplying the Leopards could further escalate the conflict with Russia, if it were interpreted as direct involvement of NATO countries in the war.

Russia has warned of an “extremely dangerous” escalation if NATO were to deploy high-tech weapons. The introduction of such weapons, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, would take the war to “a whole new level which, of course, will not bode well from the point of view of global and pan-European security.”

Anatoly Antonov, Moscow’s ambassador to the United States, said Russia would retaliate if Ukraine used Western-supplied weapons to attack Russia or the Crimea.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, now a top security official, has warned that continued Western support for Ukraine could lead to nuclear war.

What impact could the Leopards have?

Supplying Ukraine with around 100 tanks could make a “significant” difference in the war, according to the UK-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“An army can break through enemy lines and end a long period of trench warfare,” Rheinmetall chief executive Armin Papperger told German newspaper Bild. “With the Leopard, soldiers can advance tens of kilometers at a time.”

But Ukrainian troops would have to be quickly trained to use the equipment, whose operations are much more complicated than those of Soviet-era tanks.

The Ukrainian military would also be trying to catch up with other new hardware coming to Ukraine, including recently promised French AMX-10 RC light tanks, German Marder infantry vehicles, and US Bradley fighting vehicles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *