Germany and Great Britain have kept their promises and delivered heavy battle tanks to Ukraine for the first time since the beginning of the war. 18 German Leopard 2 tanks and British Challenger tanks have now arrived in Ukraine, the government in Kiev confirmed on Monday evening. Kiev had long requested the delivery of modern Western main battle tanks, and this was granted at the end of January. The tanks could be used in a Ukrainian spring offensive.
«Our tanks, as promised, arrived on time in the hands of our Ukrainian friends.
Earlier, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had confirmed the delivery of the Leopard tanks at the German-Dutch government consultations in Rotterdam.
The transport of the tanks began last week, and they have now been handed over to the Ukrainian armed forces at the border, the “Spiegel” reported. The exact transport route is being kept secret for security reasons.
At the end of January, the German federal government had promised Ukraine Leopard 2 tanks from Bundeswehr stocks by the end of March and had the USA also announce tank deliveries. The total of 18 Type 2 A6 tanks, together with modern Leopard tanks from Sweden and Portugal, are intended to reach the battalion strength of 31 tanks that is usual in Ukraine.
In the past two months, crews from the Ukraine have been trained on the Leopard tank at the Munster military training area in Lower Saxony. According to the Defense Ministry, ammunition and spare parts as well as two Buffalo-type armored recovery vehicles have now also arrived in Ukraine. Around 40 Marder armored personnel carriers are already in the country.
The supply of Western heavy tanks to Ukraine to fight against Russian forces has been discussed among allies for months.
At the same time, Poland also promised to supply Leopard tanks of an older German-made model. Together with other states, Poland is putting together a battle group and has also already delivered the first Leopard tanks to Ukraine.
The Challenger tanks from Great Britain “are already in Ukraine,” said a spokeswoman for the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense on Monday evening. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said he inspected “new arrivals” for the Ukrainian armed forces – Challenger tanks as well as German Marder infantry fighting vehicles, Cougar armored trucks and Stryker armored transporters from the US.
“A year ago, nobody would have expected such strong support from our partners,” Resnikov said on Facebook. He described the British Challengers as “military works of art”.
In London, the British government announced that Ukrainian soldiers who had been trained on Challenger 2 tanks could now be used on the front lines. “Ukrainian tank crews have completed their training (…) in the UK and have returned home to continue their fight against the (…) invasion of Russia,” the UK Defense Ministry said in a statement.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace reiterated that Britain “will remain at their side and will do everything in our power to support Ukraine for as long as is necessary”. (AFP)