Status: 23.09.2023, 21:40 p.m.
By: Stefan Schmid
Again and again there are problems with too old tanks that allies supply to Ukraine. Once again, Leopard tanks have significant shortcomings.
Kyiv/Copenhagen - A few days ago, the Danish Ministry of Defense announced its intention to deliver 45 more tanks to Ukraine together with other countries to support it in the counteroffensive in the war with Russia. Good news for Ukraine, actually, but as it has now become known, more than half of the tanks recently sent by Denmark have problems with their flawless functionality. At the same time, just a few days ago, there were similar problems with tanks from Germany.
Support for Ukraine – Denmark notices faulty tanks too late
By the time it was noticed, the damage had already been done. After 20 Leopard 1A5 tanks from Danish stock were sent on their way to support Ukraine, it became apparent that some of them had defects. This was announced by Danish Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen, who only took office at the end of August, in a letter distributed by the Danish broadcaster TV 2.
Leopard tanks like this are the ones that are currently struggling. © IMAGO/Monasse Thierry/ANDBZ/ABACA
Twelve of the 20 tanks sent are said to be not completely operational without problems, two of which are even said to have "serious defects". The ten, who are probably suffering from less serious defects, are already in Ukraine, where they are being repaired. The other Leopard tanks are still in Poland, where they are waiting to be taken across the border.
Arms delivery to Kyiv – Ukraine did not let German Leopard tanks into the country
Whether Ukraine will really let all ten remaining tanks into the country seems at least questionable given the developments of the last few days. As Der Spiegel reported this week, the country refused to allow a tranche of 10 Leopard 1A5 tanks from German stocks to cross the border from Poland. The reason, which was later confirmed by German experts, was that the tanks were massively worn out due to the training of Ukrainian soldiers in Germany and therefore needed repair.
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Kyiv keeps receiving defective tanks – reasons are not always clear
While in the case of the German tanks it is clear that they were not properly repaired after the material-intensive training, the reason is not so clear in every case. Mikhail Troitskiy, a professor of Russian studies in the Department of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told Newsweek that he had a different suspicion. It would also be possible "for NATO governments to make a conscious decision to keep the best equipment for themselves."
One idea behind this, Troitskiy said, could be that states want to be "well prepared for an expansion of the war beyond Ukraine." Therefore, the states may have decided to keep the better repaired equipment in their own arsenal. But it is also possible that "such decisions reflect reduced confidence in Ukraine's ability to strike back Russia."
Germany's behaviour currently speaks against the latter argument. The German government plans to train Ukrainian technicians as soon as possible so that they can take care of the maintenance and repair of the vehicles themselves. Above all, there is said to be a lack of these in Ukraine at the moment. (sch)