Germany’s Leopard-2 tanks begin to roll towards the Ukraine as both sides gear up for offensives
A video shows German Leopard-2 tanks and ‘Marder’ Infantry Fighting Vehicles being transported on a train, reportedly heading to Ukraine.
The footage is said to show the train carrying the military vehicles into Poland, having come from Germany.
At least three of the German tanks can be seen in the grainy video that was posted today, after Chancellor Olaf Scholz finally agreed to send the vehicles on January 25.
The exact location of the video in unclear with some claiming Poland, while others believe it’s in east Germany.
Russian war bloggers are said to be unhappy and are trying to track the location so they can be hit as soon as they reach Ukraine.
German Leopard-2 tanks have been filmed heading east out of Germany today
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz finally agreed to send the vehicles on January 25
It has also been suggested that the tanks are destined for Lithuania, where NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force exercises are taking place.
At the start of the year Germany took the lead of NATO’s highest-readiness military force, placing thousands of troops on standby and ready to deploy within days.
The VJTF was created in 2014 at the core of a strengthened NATO Response Force, following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.
VJTF land forces comprise around 11,500 thousand troops, with the Panzergrenadierbrigade 37 at its core.
In total, nine NATO Allies (Belgium, Czechia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia) will contribute.
Tanks have been pledged by several countries, including the US, as Russia is said to be planning a ‘new pre-emptive strike’ in Ukraine.
The new offensive will reportedly take place ahead of the first anniversary of their invasion on February 24 – according to satellite photos which show Putin’s forces building up fortifications.
Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defence council, said: ‘Now they are preparing for maximum activation, and they believe that by the anniversary they should have some achievements.’
‘There is no secret that they are preparing for a new wave by February 24, as they themselves say,’ he told Radio Svoboda.
Germany’s 55-ton Leopard 2 tank combines aspects of firepower, protection, speed and maneuverability – making it adaptable to many types of combat situations.
Germany’s 55-ton Leopard 2 tank combines aspects of firepower, protection, speed and maneuverability – making it adaptable to many types of combat situations
A high-ranking Ukrainian official said it is ‘no secret’ that Russia are preparing for a new wave by February 24 – the first anniversary of their invasion
The tank’s manufacturer, Krauss-Massei Wegmann, has touted it as ‘the world’s leading battle tank’ with a 120mm smooth bore gun and a fully-digital fire-control system.
The £5million tank has a crew of four and a range of 342 miles as well as top speeds of about 45 miles per hour (68km/h). Now with four main variants, its earliest version first came into service in 1979.
The Leopard 2 is also diesel-powered – not driven by jet fuel that powers America’s M1 Abrams – and is easier to operate than the big US tanks, and thus has has shorter training times, military analysts say.
Rheinmetall AG, a German defense contractor that makes the 120mm smoothbore gun on the Leopard 2, says the tank has been deployed by ‘more nations than any other’, with 3,500 units being supplied to 19 countries. More than 2,000 of those have been sent to over a dozen European countries and Canada.
It is this sheer number of Leopard tanks that has meant they are seen as the best option for Ukraine – as they would be easily deployable to Ukraine.
The International Institute for Strategic Studies estimates that three to six weeks of training would be needed for operating crews and support staff to reach basic proficiency.
Ralf Raths, director of the Panzer Museum in Munster, Germany, said experienced Ukrainian tank crews would likely be able to learn to use the Leopard 2 fairly quickly, and training could be shortened to focus on essential knowledge.
Western deliveries of Leopard 2s could help equip Ukraine with needed high-caliber munitions to replace its own dwindling Soviet-era stockpiles, opening a new avenue for supplies of Western firepower to get to Ukraine, Yohann Michel, a research analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said.