In recent weeks, the main news from Ukraine has been their request to Germany to use its modern Leopard 2 battle tanks in combat. The Ukrainian president, Zielinski, has asked the NATO alliance for 300 Leopard 2 tanks to enhance their military capabilities on the battlefield. The tanks currently being used by the Ukrainians are mostly old Soviet-era tanks, including the T-64, T-72, and T-80. Although the Ukrainians have salvaged and re-equipped some Russian tanks, they believe that modern Western tanks, such as the Leopard 2, would give them a strategic advantage in future counter-offensives.
The first positive response to Ukraine’s request came from the United Kingdom on January 14, 2023, when the UK government agreed to supply 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine. This is significant because it is the first time that a Western ally of Ukraine has sent modern military equipment to the country. Previously, tanks were sent from Eastern Bloc countries but were often replaced by NATO allies such as Germany, the US, and the UK.
The importance of the Leopard 2 tank lies in the fact that it is a German-made tank and one of the best in the world, commonly used by NATO countries. Germany currently has a fleet of around 300-320 Leopard 2 tanks, although it is unclear how many of these are operational and ready for deployment. Many NATO countries own Leopard 2 tanks, which creates a large stockpile of these tanks and associated spare parts, ammunition, and supplies.
Having so many Leopard 2 tanks in various NATO countries also means that there is a constant supply of spare parts and ammunition, making it easier to repair and resupply the tanks if they were to be sent to Ukraine. Additionally, having a large fleet of the same tank creates consistency and strategic advantage in terms of logistics, supply, and repair.
Why is Germany reluctant to supply the Leopard 2 tank to Ukraine? The key factor is that the Leopard 2 is a German-made tank and therefore, Germany is the key to granting the request. There are concerns about the consequences of supplying such advanced military equipment to Ukraine, particularly given the ongoing conflict in the country. Additionally, there are questions about the operational readiness of the German Leopard 2 tanks and the potential impact on Germany’s own military capabilities.
In conclusion, Ukraine’s request to Germany for the Leopard 2 battle tank is a strategic move aimed at enhancing their military capabilities on the battlefield. The Leopard 2 is a modern, Western-made tank that is commonly used by NATO countries and would give Ukraine a significant advantage in future counter-offensives. While Germany is reluctant to supply the tank due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and concerns about the operational readiness of their own Leopard 2 tanks, the UK has already stepped up to provide support by supplying 14 Challenger 2 tanks. Ultimately, the decision about whether to supply the Leopard 2 to Ukraine will have significant implications for the future of the conflict and the military balance of power in the region.