2,000 Leopard 2 tanks in Europe, 10% could be donated to Ukraine
HELSINKI, FINLAND — There are about 2,000 combat-ready German Leopard 2 tanks in Europe. They are in service in countries including Germany, Finland, Denmark, Spain, Norway, and Poland. The countries can unite and form a tank pool that would donate 10% of them to Ukraine. Such a proposal was made by Andrii Melnyk, Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine and former Ambassador of Ukraine to Germany.
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The reason for such a statement is due to a newly formed tank lobby in the political circles of Finland. Anders Adlercreutz and Atte Harjanne from the government parties SFP and Grønt Forbund believe that Europe cannot continue with too slow a decision on the provision of heavy combat armored vehicles to Ukraine. According to the two Finnish politicians, the same debate should be held in Denmark.
The two Finnish politicians believe that it is a mistake for Ukraine to receive obsolete Soviet and Western equipment. According to them, Leopard 2 is a modern tank that can meet the Russian threat. Adlercreutz and Harjanne claim that the Leopard 2 will not only be able to deal with the aging Soviet T-64, T-70, and T-80 tanks but could become a game-changing weapon.
Whoever decides to donate Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine will first have to get permission from Germany. Germany is the manufacturer of these tanks. In recent months, there has been a heated debate among German politicians and society as to whether Berlin should give the green light for the delivery of Leopards to Kyiv. At the end of last year, however, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that Germany has no intention of being left alone to donate to Ukraine. On the one hand, this is a refusal to supply Leopardi, on the other hand, it is exactly what the two Finnish politicians are undertaking – an initiative for a joint European donation of tanks.
Jens Wenzel Kristoffersen, a researcher at the Center for Military Studies at the University of Copenhagen believes that the problem is not the amount available to supply Leopard 2 to Ukraine, but the fear that the war between Ukraine and Russia will escalate more than now and go beyond the borders of Ukraine – the Russian contradictions.
Kristoffersen also emphasizes that Russia’s own production of tanks gives Moscow an advantage in this war. Ukraine has received hundreds of Soviet tanks, including the T-72, but soon the remaining combat-ready armored fighting vehicles will not be able to perform their primary function.
It is precise because of these analyzes of his that Kristoffersen says that at some point, sooner or later, the West, and more specifically Europe, will have to donate tanks to Ukraine. But if that happens, the analyst says, it is extremely important for Kyiv to ensure a regular supply of spare parts and ammunition. Kristoffersen agrees along with Finnish politicians Adlercreutz and Harjanne.
However, delivery of Leopard 2 tanks is possible if delayed support happens. Kristoffersen believes that it takes a much longer period for the Ukrainians to learn to field repair Western equipment than to fire the tank. And this is only part of the technical difficulties that Ukraine and Europe will face, the analyst believes.
What does Denmark think?
On the Danish side, they also joined the Finnish rhetoric. Fleming Splidsboel, who is a senior researcher on global security at the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), believes that there is currently an increasingly offensive debate in Europe.
However, Denmark’s Ministry of Defense refrains from discussing the donation of tanks to Ukraine at the moment. It is not a question of refusal, but of not giving information to the public, which does not exclude the ministry from already participating in such a discussion.
Increasingly, however, in recent weeks, both in Europe and the US, many politicians and military experts think that arms should not be given indiscriminately to Ukraine. According to general opinion, it is necessary to carefully consider what the war is being fought in Ukraine today, to find the best option for the type of weapons systems delivered.
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