There are many unanswered questions regarding Poland’s announcement that it will supply some of its Leopard tanks to Ukraine. German main battle tanks that Poland cannot rely on in the long run.
It was very symbolic that Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy met yesterday in Lviv in western Ukraine with his Polish and Lithuanian counterparts Andrzej Duda and Gitanas Nauseda. The three heads of state last met in Kiev on February 23 last year as part of the “Lublin Triangle”, a regional initiative created three years ago. Just hours before Russia started its war of aggression against Ukraine.
But in addition to the symbolic nature of the meeting of the three heads of state, there was also a statement of intent by Polish President Duda, which is likely to cause some resentment in the federal government following the debate over the Patriot air defense system. a few weeks ago. Because Duda, as the first senior responsible politician of a NATO state, has declared that he is willing to deliver the Leopard tanks to Ukraine, although he has repeatedly emphasized that this must happen within an international coalition.
“We have decided that such support will be provided by the Polish side. Within the framework of the emerging coalition, a company will be transferred to Ukraine. The project requires a number of formalities, permits and other things that need to be completed,” Duda also clarified:
Panzer announcement increases pressure on federal government
An announcement that puts pressure on Berlin in particular. After all, no country is allowed to transfer the Leopard tanks produced in Germany to a third country without the permission of the federal government. At the latest, international pressure has increased in Berlin to give up the previous no to Leopard tanks, after the Federal Chancellery announced the delivery of 40 Marder reconnaissance tanks to Ukraine.
Poland proved particularly noisy. At the end of last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Poland is ready to deliver some of its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, citing a top Polish diplomat.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, on the other hand, stated that Poland does not intend to take this step alone. As Morawiecki emphasized, he also discussed the matter with Chancellor Olaf Scholz a few weeks ago.
Marten, leopard, infantry fighting vehicle, main battle tank? here there Overview different types of tanks]
Many questions about Leopard tanks still remain unanswered.
However, with all the announcements, it is unclear how many of Poland’s Leopard tanks are willing to deliver to Ukraine, even if the Polish media mentions 14 tanks. “A tank company in NATO consists of 14 tanks. But the Ukrainian army has 11 tanks,” explains Marek Świerczyński, a military expert at the Polish analysis center Polityka Insight. “The Polish government has not yet provided precise information on how many Leopard tanks it plans to deliver to Ukraine,” Świerczyński said.
It is also unclear which Leopard 2 models Poland is willing to deliver to Ukraine. Due to the 249 parts that formed the backbone of the Polish tank army after the delivery of more than 200 Soviet designed tanks to Ukraine, 142 Leopard 2 A4 models are available. These were manufactured in the 1980s and delivered to the Polish Army by the Bundeswehr 20 years ago.
“In December 2015, the Ministry of Defense launched its modernizations. This was supposed to be completed two years ago. However, this deadline has been extended until 2027. An estimated 49 units have been modernized so far. However, exact figures are lacking,” explains Świerczyński.
If Poland got the green light from Berlin to deliver the Leopard tanks, the Polish army would herald its departure from the German main battle tanks. “Poland has ordered a total of 366 Abrams tanks from the United States and 180 K2 tanks from South Korea. These will take some time to be fully delivered, but in the long run they will replace the Leopard 2 tanks in the Polish army,” says Świerczyński.
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