Advanced main battle tanks donated by Western allies – including the Leopard 2 from Germany and the Challenger from the UK – have begun arriving in Ukraine, bolstering the country’s armed forces after months of requests for reinforcements.
On Monday, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Ukraine had received the Challenger main battle tank from the United Kingdom; the Stryker infantry fighting vehicle and the Cougar infantry motor vehicle from the United States; and the Marder infantry fighting vehicle from Germany.
German Chancellor Olaf Schulz said Berlin had also delivered Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
“Yes, we delivered the Panther tanks as announced,” Schulz told a joint news conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in Rotterdam on Monday.
Three Leopard 2 main battle tanks donated by Portugal have arrived in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said in a statement on Monday.
Some background: At a time when tank warfare is an important part of conflict, Western main battle tanks bring increased firepower and survivability.
Hamish de Bretton Gordon, former commander of the British Army’s 1st Royal Tank Regiment, said the Challenger sent by Britain was absolutely superior to any tank Russia had, such as the T-72.
A Challenger L2 might take four or five direct hits from a T-72 and survive – while a single hit [from a Challenger] A T-72 will be destroyed,” he said.
Western tanks would also allow Ukraine to conduct combined arms maneuver if supported by infantry and artillery, and much of southern and eastern Ukraine is ideal terrain for a combined counteroffensive by modern Western tanks and armored fighting vehicles.
Given the incredible rate at which ammunition is being used in Ukraine, Leopard 2 has another advantage. Ammunition for its 120mm gun is widely used by NATO forces.
Fred Pleitgen, Tim Lister, Matthias Somm, Vasco Cotovio, Yulia Kesaieva and Inke Kappeler contributed to the report.