Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has reportedly reached a decision to deliver some of Bundeswehr’s Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, and to allow other countries to do so as well, after several days of intense pressure from allies to open the doors to deliveries of the most available western tanks to Kyiv.
According to Der Spiegel, Germany will send at least one company’s worth of Leopard 2A6 tanks, which in most armies is 14 tanks – three platoons of four tanks and two tanks for the company commander and his second-in-command.
Berlin’s decision appears to have been hastened by Warsaw, which sent a formal request to Germany to donate some of its own Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv – a move which would require Berlin’s permission as all of Germany’s arms export contracts stipulate mandatory approval from Germany in order to re-export the weapons legally.
The German media note that other countries, including Scandinavian allies, are also interested in donating their Leopard 2 tanks, with an apparent “Leopard coalition” brewing in the west. Finland, which has already publicly stated it is mulling the move, has some 239 Leopard 2 tanks in its inventory, 100 of which are updated to the 2A6 standard, while the others are kept in reserve or have been converted into anti-air, bridge-laying or mine-clearing vehicles.
Tanks for defence
Poland, which has been a frontrunner in the call to deliver western tanks to Ukraine, currently has 34 Leopard 2s updated to their own 2PL and 2PLM1 standards from the old Bundeswehr 2A4 models. Poland still has some 108 unupgraded 2A4 models and 105 more modern 2A5 models.
Spain, Greece and Sweden also have considerable Leopard 2 stocks which could be used to supply Ukraine. Spain has some 327 tanks, 219 of which are Leopard 2A6 equivalents, Greece has 353, of which 170 are updated to the 2A6 variant, and Sweden has 120 Leopard 2s which it has refitted to its own, Stridsvagn 122 standard.
Kyiv has previously claimed it needs at least 300 western tanks to counter the expected renewal of the Russian offensive in the spring, and to launch its own counter offensives, though many western analysts believe as little as 100 tanks could be sufficient to achieve these goals.
US sending Abrams
With the UK already pledging a company of Challenger 2 tanks, Ukraine would thus need some five more companies of Leopard 2s, which could easily come from the stocks of several NATO allies, provided Germany sets pace with its own donation.
While France has already hinted it is considering sending some of its own Leclerc battle tanks, the Wall Street Journal also reported on Tuesday that the US is changing its mind on sending its M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, in an apparent move also envisioned to pressure Berlin into delivering tanks from its own stocks. Scholz has previously stated that Germany would only consider sending heavy armour as part of a wider coalition move, with some media claiming he demanded the US send its own tanks before Berlin would commit to sending its tanks.
Earlier this month, Germany announced it would be sending its Marder infantry fighting vehicles in a joint declaration with the US, which pledged its M2 Bradley IFVs. Only a day before this decision was made public, France announced it would be sending its AMX-10 RC cavalry vehicles to Ukraine, breaking the apparent western taboo on sending offensive heavy weapons to Kyiv.