Russia has destroyed large share of Ukraine’s German tanks – media
Ukraine’s military has lost a substantial proportion of its Leopard 2 battle tanks donated by foreign states, with more than a quarter destroyed by Russian troops and the rest damaged beyond Kiev’s capacity to repair them, according to Foreign Affairs magazine.
While Western media reports touted the German-made tank as a game-changer after Berlin authorized the transfers last year, Kiev has since discovered they are “hardly invulnerable superweapons,” the outlet reported on Monday.
“Of the fewer than 100 Leopard 2s in Ukrainian service, at least 26 have been knocked out; others cannot be used due to repair and maintenance issues,” Foreign Affairs wrote, adding that Ukraine lacks the “extensive support infrastructure” needed to maintain its fleet.
The magazine also pointed to “rushed training” for Ukrainian tank crews by Western advisers, saying they had failed to employ “tight combined-arms coordination” to preserve armored vehicles under fire on the battlefield. The tank brigades were provided just five weeks of instruction, and were largely made up of “inexperienced formations” with little to no combat experience.
Leopard 2s were employed in the earlier phases of Kiev’s summer counteroffensive, but were “weakly supported” and “made little headway” against deep defensive lines established by Moscow. While Foreign Affairs argued that additional military aid “would have helped,” it added that Kiev’s performance has offered “little evidence that better tanks would have been decisive.”
Germany announced transfers of the Leopard to Ukraine in early 2023, after the United States pledged 31 of its own M1 Abrams battle tanks. Kiev received the first US tanks only in October, and they also failed to give it the edge on the battlefield, with Forbes recently reporting it was “not clear” what Ukraine was doing with the costly weapon system.
The outlet suggested the Abrams tanks haven’t been seen in combat as Kiev is busy “up-armoring them to resist attacks by Russia’s explosive-laden first-person-view drones,” even after a lengthy refurbishment process overseen by Washington prior to the first shipment.
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, for his part, has argued that his country simply did not receive enough tanks to make a difference, noting that he could “hardly say that [the Abrams] play a particularly important role on the battlefield,” as “there are too few of them.”
Moscow has repeatedly warned that deliveries of weapons to Kiev by the US and its allies will not prevent it from achieving the goals of its military operation in Ukraine but only increase the risk of a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO. Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, have stressed that any Western-supplied hardware will be destroyed, no matter the type.