IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


23rd January, 2023 Security

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Context: Germany has not decided whether to allow its Leopard 2 tanks to be sent to Ukraine.


What is a Leopard 2 tank?

  • The Leopard 2 is one of the world’s leading battle tanks, used by the German Army for decades and by the militaries of more than a dozen other European nations, as well as by the armies of countries as far apart as Canada and Indonesia.
  • It has seen service in conflicts in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Syria.
  • The tank, which is powered by a diesel engine, features night-vision equipment and a laser range finder that can measure distance to an object, enabling it to better aim at a moving target while traveling over rough terrain.
  • There are multiple iterations of the Leopard 2 with different features and designs.

How could the tank help Ukraine?

  • Until now, both Ukraineand Russia have used Soviet-era tanks in battle, and the Leopards would offer a big step forward in capability.
  • Ukraine’s government has been calling for tanks on top of earlier packages of military aid from allies in the United States and Europe that included aircraft, air defense systems to protect against Russian missile and drone attacks and longer-range artillery.
  • Supplies of the Leopard 2 would help offset Russia’s superiority in artillery firepower, which aided Moscow in seizing two cities in eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk province

What are the advantages of Leopards over other tanks?

  • Chief advantage of the Leopard 2 was the quantity that could be sent to Ukraine and the relative ease of repair and logistics.
  • In addition, because several European countries use the vehicles, multiple nations could contribute either the tanks themselves, or spare parts, training capacity or logistics, said Alander, an expert in northern European security and German foreign policy.

What are the potential pitfalls?

  • Russia appears to be preparing for an offensive in the late winter or early spring.
  • It is not clear that the supply of Western tanks, including the Leopard 2, would arrive at the battlefront quickly enough to confront that threat.
  • Even if the Ukrainians get trained quickly, that could still take months, and there are still questions about how many tanks could be provided and at what level they could be maintained.