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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Poland to deliver Leopard tanks to Ukraine

by The Kyiv Independent news deskJanuary 11, 2023 5:25 pm
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Poland to deliver Leopard tanks to UkraineA new Leopard 2 A7V heavy battle tank stands during a visit by German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht to the Bundeswehr Army training grounds on February 07, 2022, in Munster, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Polish President Andrzej Duda has announced the delivery of a company of modern German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. 

Duda made the announcement at a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky and Lithuanian counterpart Gitanas Nauseda in Lviv on Jan. 11 as part of the “Lublin Triangle” format, the regional partnership established by the three in July 2020.

“A company of Leopard tanks will be provided as part of the coalition," Duda said at the press conference. A tank company generally consists of ten to a dozen tanks.

It is not clear which countries Duda had in mind with the term "international coalition." The lack of broader coordination among European partners has been consistently presented by Germany as the reason for not taking the lead with delivering Leopards. 

Other European nations had previously signaled their readiness to provide the tanks, but also on condition of coordinated action between European states. On Jan. 6, Finland announced that it would be ready to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine "if Europe starts giving" them.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for U.K Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told media that Defense Secretary Ben Wallace had been given instructions by Sunak to move “further and faster with our support for Ukraine including the provision of tanks”, as reported by the Financial Times.

The only main battle tank in service in the British army is the Challenger 2, manufactured in the U.K. since 1998, of which 227 are currently in service.

On Jan 10, Politico reported that France was putting increasing pressure on Berlin to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine ahead of a Franco-German summit on Jan. 22. Poland also exerted pressure on Germany by publicly calling for a broad coalition among Western allies to hand over Leopards.

Poland currently operates around 249 Leopard 2 tanks. These vehicles were aquired over the 2000s as a replacement for the country's Soviet-era t-72 tanks, of which over 230 have already been sent to Ukraine. 

At the Lublin Triangle meeting in Lviv, the three leaders discussed support for Ukraine against Russian aggression, as well as questions of Ukraine's EU and NATO integration.

As part of Lithuanian 40 million euro military aid commitment for Ukraine over 2023, Naseda announced the delivery of more air defense systems, though the exact model was not specified.

After months of negotiations, Germany announced on Jan. 5 that it would provide Ukraine with Marder infantry fighting vehicles. The United States jointly announced it would give Ukraine 50 Bradley fighting vehicles on the same day. France said it would provide light tanks.

The Kyiv Independent news desk
The Kyiv Independent news desk

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