UPDATED 14 FEBRUARY 2023 – Finland, the Scandinavian country with a 1,340 km (830 mi) long border with Russia, has agreed to help the Ukraine armed forces with its tank force. But according to Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin this will likely not include any or only a very few of the 200 German-made Leopard 2 main battle tanks Finland has itself.
Finnish Leopard 2 battle tank during the NATO Exercise Cold Response 22 in Norway (Photo by Torbjørn Kjosvold/Forsvaret)
Marin said during a talk on Finnish radio (YLE) on 12 February that the question of gifting Leopard 2s to Ukraine is one “that needs serious attention” because “we will have to address our own defence capabilities across the board”.
According to the Finnish Defence Minister Mikko Savola Finland might provide services, spare parts or training to future Ukrainian Leopard tank crews. Savola said this in January to Finnish media.
Up to 320 modern tanks
The United States, Canada and EU countries are planning to ship up to 320 modern main battle tanks to Ukraine, to aid the country in its fight against the invasion forces of Russia. Washington has promised to ship 31 M1 Abrams tanks, which are by experts considered the world’s best, maybe even a tiny bit better than the German Leopard 2 that Berlin and Poland both want to send 14 from. Norway announced on 14 February it will contribute with 8 of its 42 operational Leopard 2A4NOs. Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands together finance preparing and delivering of at least 100 less capable Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine, while Britain has promised 14 Challenger 2 tanks.
Slovakia and Poland
Slovakia said it can transfer up to 30 Soviet-designed T-72 tanks to Ukraine, but in exchange for e.g. German Leopard 2s. This seems to be a slow process, as by March Slovakia will likely have gotten only three Leopard 2s, the Defence Ministry said. Poland was very enthusiastic with its announcement, but lately only seems to be willing to hand them over if the European Union pays for the Leopard 2s Warsaw announced to send.
Delivered through Poland
Poland will likely be the country through which all these tanks will be delivered, most likely by rail to the border and than further on truck trailer into Ukraine. Just delivering the tanks will not be enough, it takes weeks to months for new tank crews to master their skills and operate tactically on the battlefield, military experts say. | © 2023 Marcel Burger, nordicreporter.com