Why Ukraine Needs a German Leopard 2, and Fast

Remember, it was at the start of this war that was not yet a year old but seemed to have been going on for decades. On approaching Kyiv, the Russian army suffered colossal losses, mainly in tanks and embodied by images of convoys of armored vehicles being completely crushed, like balloons at a fair.

It is understood. Faced with modern artillery, an abundance of anti-tank guns like the famous “Saint-Javelin”, cheap Turkish Bayraktar-2 drones or even civilian devices used to kill tanks, old modern heavy armored vehicles are worthless. triplet. Russia has lost and is still losing in staggering numbers, a sign of the end of an era.

And again. The Ukrainian army, which knows very well how to deal with those arriving from Russia, is seeking help from its Western allies in preparations for a tough war in the months ahead. France started by announcing the delivery of the AMX-10 RC (“RoueCanon”) mobile armored vehicle, followed a little later by the United States and its Bradley or Germany and its Marder.

The side-rolling weapon, the first important taboo fell. However, it has not been the heaviest of battle tanks or main battle tank (MBT) in Anglo-Saxon nomenclature: this is Great Britain, with announced delivery of fourteen Challenger 2s, which will cross the Rubicon in mid-January.

If, like London, it has the political and moral interest to do so, if only to get the movement started again, Paris can barely deliver its Leclerc, however good, for logistical and technical reasons.

France does not have sufficient reserves and is in good shape not to strip itself too much, as Stephane Audran recently explained in a very clear thread on Twitter.

Cats for others

According to many analysts, the Western tank ticks all the right boxes: The Leopard 2. Available in large numbers due to being used by many armies in Europe and elsewhere (Germany, Poland, Spain, Czech Republic, Greece, Netherlands, Sweden…) , very capable and especially in the face of aging Russian tanks, tracked beasts could help turn the tide of war once and for all.

Its maker Rheinmetall has warned that shipments of German copies cannot be made before 2024. But if Olaf Scholz’s government, under pressure from allies such as Ukraine, decides to ship some to Kyiv. A thorny question that cost the Secretary of Defense his job across the Rhine, and which could depend on Washington’s attitude and the possible delivery of some M1 Abrams to Ukraine.

Other countries, however, such as Poland, have said for several days that they are ready to immediately send the Leopard 2 to Ukraine, if Germany gives it the important green light and as part of a “donor coalition”.

But why is it so urgent to give Ukraine dozens, if not hundreds, of modern heavy tanks, if they are only worthy of being destroyed in a few minutes on the battlefield, and while the British are thinking about getting rid of them once and for all two years. ago?

Because, to be precise, they defend primordial interests, as Politico or the Washington Post explain to name but a few. “Ukraine proves that armor matters”added Ben Wallace, UK Secretary of Defence, when announcing the launch of the Challenger 2.

Tracked cannon, very formidable in strength and very mobile. In Ukraine, however, Russia is mobilizing large infantry, which it will increasingly increase in the coming months or even in the coming years if the conflict drags on as Vladimir Putin seems to have hoped.

Against these cannon fodder, which don’t shy away from sending them out in waves and without much protection, it’s the cannons, if possible being able to move quickly from one hot spot to another, that can make all the difference – over long periods of course. a complete, multimodal and well-controlled operational and technical plan.

A restarting caterpillar

This distinction, from now on, is no longer a simple defense, but triggers a counterattack that will allow Ukraine to reclaim territory occupied by Russia or its cronies since 2014. This ultimate strategic goal will hinge on upcoming deliveries of weapons, including and why not long-range missiles. away or even fighter jets, from the western allies of kyiv.

“If the Ukrainians have the opportunity to strike again, they will need big guns – military Land Rovers or armored patrol vehicles will not be enough. They need something that can destroy Russian tanks from a long distance.”explained a European diplomat to Politico. “Mobility is key”he added.

The site also notes that the Himars missile launchers, which have performed and are performing so many military miracles since being supplied by the United States, are starting to be better reckoned with by the Russian army, who are gradually moving their targets away from them in order to avoid being hit.

kyiv therefore needs highly mobile artillery, capable of making contact: these are the famous “main battle tanks”, the Leopard 2 or M1 Abrams that were so criticized a few months ago, now much anticipated.

It was still necessary to train the Ukrainian crews to use materials they did not know: even before the tanks arrived, the sooner the better because next week then the next month would be decisive.

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