Can Leopard Tanks Change the Balance of Power in the Ukrainian War?
A Leopard 2 tank in a photo from 2007. (Wikimedia Commons)

Can Leopard Tanks Change the Balance of Power in the Ukrainian War?

An-Nahar, Lebanon, January 27

Can Leopard tanks change the balance of power in the Ukrainian war? This is a question that has been posed frequently in media outlets and defense institutes worldwide since Germany announced its decision to provide Ukrainian forces with Leopard 2 tanks. In order to provide Ukraine with more weapons from NATO countries, several European countries, including the three Baltic republics, Poland, and even Britain, initiated a political and media campaign to pressure Germany and encourage Berlin to move away from its cautious, reticent stance regarding supplying Ukraine with these tanks, which are deemed to be some of the best tanks in the world. Berlin, which has traditionally adhered to a conservative approach when it comes to its involvement in military theaters since the end of World War II, has been reluctant to provide Kyiv with much support for their defensive war against Russia. Before this, Berlin acted hastily to supply Kyiv with several Gepard anti-aircraft missiles, designed to be attached to armored personnel carriers, in an effort to detract from Kyiv’s demand for Leopard 2 tanks. This happened at a time when Britain was hurriedly providing Ukraine with 14 Challenger 2 tanks. Experts consider the German Leopard 2 tank to be the most advanced in the world, with advanced technology in its track, suspension and cannon systems. Studies show that the Leopard 2 is superior to all other tanks in the NATO alliance in terms of its ability to penetrate shields and fortifications from long distances. However, the question remains: Why has Berlin so far refrained from providing Kyiv with these combat tanks? Possible explanations include a shortage of a sufficient number of these tanks in the German army or in the Krauss-Maffei Wegmann company’s manufacturing plants. Additionally, its high cost in comparison to other available tanks may be a factor. Finally, some experts suggest that Germany’s long-term reluctance to accept Ukraine’s requests for Leopard 2 tanks is due to political reasons. On February 24, 2022, Russian forces invaded Ukrainian lands, reminding us of the preludes to expansionism that had been present since 2014. At this time, Russian forces had already invaded the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, occupied the Crimean Peninsula, and then annexed it to their territory. Germany has been very careful in its relationship with Russia since the start of the war, with Chancellor Olaf Scholz announcing an alteration in its defense policy. This included raising the defense budget. However, caution in supporting Ukraine has remained a main focus of Germany’s foreign policy. Berlin’s decision to provide Kyiv with Leopard 2 tanks is an important event that may indicate a shift toward greater German involvement in Ukraine. Ukraine is on the border of an expansionist and hostile Russia, and the tanks will have no real value unless they arrive in large numbers; that is, at least 100-200 units with spare parts and ammunition. Now, as the war enters a sensitive stage, Europe cannot afford to take a cautious, fearful stance. Vladimir Putin is playing chess like a professional, while the major European powers, such as France and Germany, are playing checkers like amateurs. – Ali Hamada (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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