Advanced battle tanks donated by Western allies — including Leopard 2s from Germany and Challengers from the United Kingdom — have started to arrive in Ukraine, bolstering the country’s armed forces after months of pleading for reinforcements.
On Monday, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Ukraine had received Challenger main battle tanks from the UK; Stryker infantry fighting vehicles and Cougar infantry mobility vehicles from the United States; and Marder infantry fighting vehicles from Germany.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Berlin had also delivered Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
“Yes, we delivered Leopard tanks as we announced,” Scholz said during a joint news conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in Rotterdam on Monday.
And three Leopard 2 main battle tanks donated by Portugal have arrived in Ukraine, the country’s ministry of defense said in a statement on Monday.
Some background: The Western main battle tanks bring greater firepower and survivability at a time when tank warfare has become an important part of the conflict.
Hamish de Bretton Gordon, former commanding officer of the 1st Royal Tank Regiment in the British Army, says the Challengers being sent by the UK are vastly superior to anything the Russians have, such as the T-72 tanks.
A Challenger L2 will probably take four or five direct hits from a T-72 and survive – while one hit [from a Challenger] will destroy a T-72,” he said.
Western tanks would also allow Ukraine to conduct combined arms maneuvers if supported by infantry and artillery, and much of southern and eastern Ukraine is ideal terrain for combinations of modern Western tanks and armored fighting vehicles to spearhead a counteroffensive.
The Leopard 2 has another advantage, given the incredible rate at which ammunition is being used in Ukraine. The ammunition for its 120 mm gun is widely available among NATO armies.
Fred Pleitgen, Tim Lister, Matthias Somm, Vasco Cotovio, Yulia Kesaieva and Inke Kappeler contributed reporting.