In order to strengthen international military assistance for Kyiv, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is being pushed to permit the transfer of Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine.
Germany has so far opposed such a move, arguing that Western tanks should only be given to Ukraine with the consent of Kyiv’s key allies, including the United States.
Why Ukraine Is Interested To Use Leopard 2 Tanks?
Officials from the West are trying to strike a balance between giving Ukraine the tools it needs to protect itself and not giving it any weapons that might inspire Kyiv to launch assaults against Russia or cause NATO to engage in a war with Moscow.
Here are some details regarding Leopard 2 and the deliberations surrounding its possible use in Ukraine.
Leopard re-export requires German government consent, therefore other countries with such tanks would be unable to ship them to Ukraine without it.
Some German officials have indicated a softening of their stance ahead of a summit of Ukraine’s allies next Friday at Ramstein, Germany, where governments will make their newest pledges of military support for Kyiv.
Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, whose Economy Ministry is in charge of licensing defense exports, said on Thursday that Berlin should not obstruct countries sending Leopards to Ukraine.
The tank is regarded as one of the best in the world. Since its inception in 1978, the German defense company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann has produced over 3,500 Leopard 2 tanks.
The tank weighs more than 60 tons, has a 120mm smoothbore gun, and can hit targets up to five kilometers away.
The Leopard 2 is used by 20 different countries. This suggests that several countries could contribute tanks to help Ukraine. This would also make maintenance and personnel training easier for Ukraine.
Germany Faces Pressure To Help Ukraine
One of the most extensively utilized Western tanks is the Leopard 2. However, three decades after the Cold War’s end, tanks, and other heavy weapons remain in short supply in the majority of the Western world. Following the fall of communism, many countries dramatically decreased their military.
According to German military analyst Carl Schulze, Germany now has approximately 350 Leopard 2 tanks, compared to over 4,000 combat main tanks at the height of the Cold War.
At the same time, purchasing a big number of Leopard 2 tanks rapidly is nearly difficult.
The German defense industry is prohibited by law from creating them for stockpiling. Countries that order new tanks should expect to wait two to three years for delivery.
Even if production is increased, analysts estimate that it will take at least two years for the first new tanks to leave the factory.
At Friday’s summit, the spotlight will be on Germany in particular. Britain put pressure on Berlin this week by becoming the first Western country to send tanks, offering a squadron of Challengers.
Polish President Andrzej Duda said on Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that providing modern tanks and missiles to Ukraine was critical since Russia was planning a new onslaught. Poland and Finland have already stated that if Germany permits, they will send Leopard tanks.
Ukraine has mostly relied on T-72 tank variants from the Soviet era. Germany’s Leopard 2 tank is widely recognized as one of the greatest in the world. The tank weighs about 60 tons (60,000 kilograms), has a 120mm smoothbore cannon, and can hit targets up to five kilometers away (three miles).
Ukraine claims the tanks will provide its troops with the mobile firepower they need to drive Russian troops out of crucial battles.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated in a video link to the Davos conference that Western supplies of tanks and air defense systems to counter Russia’s frequent missile strikes should arrive faster and be supplied faster than Moscow is able to carry out attacks.