the heavy tanks already delivered, promised or hoped for by kyiv
FOCUS – Like London and Warsaw, Berlin is already committed to supplying 14 units to kyiv. Germany, which has Leopard 2, the most widespread tank in Europe, aims to form two battalions. What does this represent in the conflict?
“Allies have the required number of tanksneeded by Ukraine to overthrow enemy troops, President Volodymyr Zelensky said again on Tuesday in his daily address, once again urging Westerners to provide him with heavy tanks. At the same time, the magazine Spiegel announced a spectacular turnaround by Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who would have finally accepted the delivery of German Leopard 2 tanks. and Finland, to send their own German-made tanks in support of Ukrainian forces.
Heavy tanks are distinguished from light tanks by their mass – between 40 and 70 tons – and their firepower. For example, the AMX-10 RC light armored vehicles promised by France, weighing around twenty tons, do not fall into this category. Major heavy tanks include the French Leclerc, German Leopard, American Abrams, British Challenger and Russian T-72/T-80/T-90.
How many have been promised, how many will be delivered? President Zelensky said on Tuesday that “needs” were “bigger than five, ten or fifteen chariots“. According to the highest ranking officer in the Ukrainian army, General Valeri Zaloujny, quoted by the New York Timesat least 300 tanks would be needed to mark a turning point on the front.
About fifty heavy tanks already promised, and soon a hundred
At this point, the British have already promised Ukraine 14 Challenger 2s, and the Poles 14 Leopard 2s. Initially, it would also give 14 Leopard 2s, from Bundeswehr stocks. It will be the A6 version of this tank, more modern than the A4/5 promised by Warsaw. Anyway, so that’s 52 firm promises of Western heavy tanks.
In addition, Berlin said on Wednesday that it was aiming to quickly form two Leopard 2 battalions for Ukraine. A tank battalion being made up in Germany of four companies, i.e. 56 units, it would therefore be a commitment of a hundred Leopard 2s.
But that’s not all. According to the magazine SpiegelWashington is also said to be on the verge of sending Abrams, but no estimate is given as to the number.
Same thing for Finland, which has made known their willingness to deliver Leopard 2 tanks to kyiv as soon as Berlin has given its approval, without providing any details as to the number. On the side of France and its Leclercs, Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday alongside Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor, that “nothing is excluded» and that the decision «was appreciatedcollectively“.
Several hundred potentially deliverable Leopard 2s
These promises depend in fact on the stocks of heavy tanks of the various States. What is the state of play in Europe? The Leopard 2 tank is the most widespread, with some 1,700 operational units in Europe, to which are added around 500 Leopard 1s in reserve. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Leopard 2s are distributed among the German (284), Austrian (56), Danish (48), Finnish (100), Greek (353), Hungarian (48) armies. , Swedish (120), Spanish (327), Portuguese (37) and Polish (247).
Overall, if 10% of the European fleet were engaged in Ukraine, this would constitute a total of about 200 tanks. Conversely, the British and French fleets are respectively 200 Challenger and 200 Leclerc tanks, a limited stock which should not allow massive delivery.
Across the Atlantic, Washington has 2,600 operational Abrams M1, some of which are already deployed in NATO countries. If the arsenal is considerable, the United States cites logistical complexity to justify their reluctance – at this stage – to any delivery. “The Abrams tank (…) requires difficult training, it has a jet engine. I believe it consumes 11 liters of kerosene per km“, Argued the number three of the Pentagon, Colin Kahl. “Not the easiest system to maintain“.
Nearly 300 Soviet tanks already delivered
In reality, the delivery of heavy tanks by neighboring countries is not unprecedented. From the beginning of the conflict, several states allied with Ukraine provided the Ukrainian army with Soviet-designed tanks to support its defense against the Russian offensive. In total, nearly 300 tanks of this type were delivered, including the T-72, the most marketed tank in the world.
By April, Poland had provided some 200 T-72 tanks. At the end of November, with the support of the United States and the Netherlands, the Czech Republic followed suit with 90 T-72B tanks. For its part, Slovenia indicated in September that it had signed an agreement to send 28 M55S tanks to Ukraine, a heavily modernized version of the T-55 designed in the Soviet Union in the late 1950s.
850 Ukrainian tanks at the dawn of the conflict
When the conflict broke out on February 24, Ukraine could rely on the presence of some 850 more or less modern tanks, knowing that France, by comparison, only has 224.
According to the independent site Oryx, kyiv has lost some 449 heavy tanks since the start of the war. Paradoxically, Russia itself happens to be one of its main contributors to offset these losses, with 543 tanks captured from the enemy since the beginning of the conflict. Conversely, 144 Ukrainian tanks were reportedly captured by the Russians. These figures, calculated from authenticated images, do not necessarily represent all of the losses.
A superiority in quantity, not in quality for the Russians
By comparison, Russia counted on the outbreak of its “special operation» an overwhelming superiority over kyiv with around 2500 to 3000 T-72s, T-80s and T-90s operational. According to the Estonian intelligence chief, Moscow also has‘“around 9,000 tanks in repair and storage sites“, which, in terms of operational potential, could allow it to bring “at least 3000 additional tanks” on the front. “VSe which is obviously a very, very large number and poses a threat not only to Ukraine, but to all of its other neighboring countries“, commented in December Colonel Margo Grosberg.
However, Russia would have lost since February 24.60% of its total battle tank stock“, estimated at the beginning of January the director of the general staff of the European Union Hervé Bléjean. One thing is certain, Russia has lost at least 1600 tanks, out of the 2500 to 3000 it had at the time of launching its “special operation“.
But considerations in terms of quantity are not the only determinants. The Western tanks that the Ukrainians are hoping for have capabilities that could give them an advantage over Soviet tanks. The Leopard II is particularly renowned for its ease of use, from maintenance to access to ammunition. While Russia, for its part, has only a few hundred of its most modern operational tank, the T-90M.
The Kremlin reacted to German promises on Wednesday, reiterating its threats to Westerners. They “overestimate the potential that (tanks) could give the Ukrainian armyKremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “These tanks will burn like all the others“, he added.