GLOBSEC Expert Reaction – Leopard Tank Approval

on 25.01.2023

Ukraine will receive deliveries of Western-made tanks, following calls on social media for #FreeLeopards. The country will now receive a number of Western tanks, in addition to the Russian tanks they have captured and the Soviet legacy tanks they already possess. More elaborated commentaries from tank experts will come in the upcoming days, but there are clearly questions on logistics of these vehicles that the Ukrainian armed forces will need to address.

The large number of diverse main battle tanks (MBTs) including Leopards, Challengers, T-55, T-72, T-90 and other T range tanks, Abrams and potentially Leclercs raises questions about how Ukraine will handle an assortment of technical issues. They include but are not limited to their maintenance, fuel and ammunition reserves, personnel training, creating an inventory of spare parts, and other operational demands of these tanks, which differ significantly.

Keeping with the decentralized approach on the battlefield, I am expecting that a given military unit will be operating a single tank type and will also pair it with other complementary equipment. For example a company operating Abrams and Bradleys. Another thing to consider is an expansion of the repairing stations in Eastern flank countries so that say a Leclerc does not have to go to France overnight. The timing on the delivery remains unclear and it can take months before the tanks are put into action by the Ukrainian army, due to training, delivery and other necessities. Until then Ukraine has to withstand the remainder of the winter while being under the vicious Russian attacks on civilian targets.

Nevertheless, the decision to deliver tanks is a positive political step, as the Ukrainian military has been requesting them for some time. Along with the recent packages announced at Rammstein, the decision to supply Western-made tanks may prove to be a significant point in the war. What will be the Russian answer remains a question for speculation also depending on what the final number of delivered tanks will be.

However, it is important to note that long-term strategies integrating the tanks on the battlefield will be necessary to sustain the Ukrainian military and ultimately ensure victory. This includes determining the capabilities needed, securing them, and identifying the specific steps and political, economic, and other factors that will influence the outcome of the war. In the upcoming weeks we might see a shifted focus towards the fighter aircrafts.