© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Members of the navy stroll on a tank, as Germany delivers its first Leopard tanks to Slovakia as a part of a deal after Slovakia donated combating autos to Ukraine, in Bratislava, Slovakia, December 19, 2022. REUTERS/Radovan Stoklasa
BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is beneath strain to approve a rise in worldwide navy assist for Kyiv by permitting the export of Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine.
Germany has resisted such a transfer up to now, saying Western tanks ought to solely be equipped to Ukraine if there’s settlement amongst Kyiv’s important allies, notably america.
Western officers wish to strike a steadiness between making certain Ukraine can defend itself and never supplying arms that would encourage Kyiv to make assaults on Russia or draw NATO into battle with Moscow.
Listed here are some details in regards to the Leopard 2 and the talk over whether or not to deploy it in Ukraine.
The re-export of Leopards requires German authorities approval, so different nations with such tanks couldn’t ship them to Ukraine with out it.
Some German officers have signaled a softening of their view forward of a gathering of Ukraine’s allies in Ramstein in Germany subsequent Friday the place governments will announce their newest pledges of navy assist for Kyiv.
Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, whose Financial system Ministry is liable for approving defence exports, stated on Thursday Berlin mustn’t stand in the way in which of nations that wish to ship Leopards to Ukraine.
That might give the inexperienced gentle to nations resembling Poland, which has stated it desires to take such a step as a part of a coalition.
Scholz has but to say whether or not he shares Habeck’s view or would permit Germany to ship a few of its personal Leopards to Ukraine.
WHY HAS THE WEST NOT SENT BATTLE TANKS TO KYIV SO FAR?
Western officers are anxious to keep away from being dragged extra straight into the battle.
Whereas Moscow has condemned escalations in arms provides for Ukraine, this has not led to any navy penalties for the West. That has made governments extra open to the thought of sending tanks.
Till now, Ukraine has relied totally on Soviet-era T-72 tank variants.
Some Western officers have flagged one other concern – that Russia, and even China, may get its fingers on superior Western weaponry deployed in Ukraine, enabling Moscow or Beijing to steal Western navy expertise.
WHY DOES UKRAINE WANT THE LEOPARD 2?
The tank is considered one of many West’s finest.
German defence firm Krauss-Maffei Wegmann has constructed greater than 3,500 Leopard 2 tanks since starting manufacturing in 1978.
The tank weighs greater than 60 tons, has a 120mm smoothbore gun and might hit targets at a distance of as much as 5 km.
Some 20 nations function the Leopard 2. This implies a number of nations might every chip in a few of their tanks to assist Ukraine. This may additionally make it simpler for Ukraine to handle upkeep and crew coaching.
Nations working the Leopard embrace Canada, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.
HOW MANY LEOPARD 2 TANKS ARE AVAILABLE?
The Leopard 2 is among the most generally used Western tanks. However typically, three a long time after the tip of the Chilly Struggle, tanks and different heavy weapons are in scarce provide in many of the West. Many nations drastically lowered their armies after the the autumn of communism.
Germany has about 350 Leopard 2 tanks as we speak, in comparison with some 4,000 battle important tanks on the top of the Chilly Struggle, German navy knowledgeable Carl Schulze says.
On the similar time, it’s all however unattainable to purchase a considerable amount of Leopard 2 tanks rapidly.
Germany’s defence trade is banned by legislation from producing them for stock-keeping. International locations ordering new tanks must be ready to attend two to a few years for supply.
Even when manufacturing had been ramped up, specialists say it might take no less than two years for the primary new tanks to go away the manufacturing unit.
WHAT OTHER WESTERN BATTLE TANKS ARE THERE?
The USA operates 1000’s of M1 Abrams tanks constructed by Basic Dynamics (NYSE:) however they’re seen as unsuitable for Ukraine as they’re pushed by fuel turbine engines.
“The kerosone consumption of the Abrams is so excessive that Ukraine doesn’t stand an opportunity of working it within the present war-time provide scenario,” Schulze says.
The Leopard 2 runs on a extra economical engine that burns diesel, which is simpler to acquire than kerosene.
Britain is contemplating supplying a few of its Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, in response to media stories.
France operates Leclerc tanks. It has not stated whether or not it might be prepared to present some to Ukraine.