M1 Abrams and Leopard 2 tanks can help Ukraine reduce casualties, strengthen its defenses against Russia or even launch a new counterattack.
The US and Germany announced on January 25 that they would supply main battle tanks to Ukraine after weeks of debate on the issue.
The 31 American M1 Abrams tanks are likely to be delivered to Ukraine this fall, while the German-made Leopard 2 tanks could be delivered in the next few months, when Western experts predict. Russia will launch a new offensive.
The Leopard 2 is the most popular main battle tank in Europe, while the M1 Abrams is a highly praised weapon. These two models are expected to provide significantly more firepower than the Soviet-era tanks that Ukraine is using.
Henk Goemans, director of the Center for the Study of Conflict and Cooperation at the University of Rochester in New York state, said the M1 Abrams and Leopard 2 “will be very important to Ukrainian forces in the current phase of hostilities. , when the situation on the eastern battlefield fell into a stalemate”.
“Ukraine is at a numerical disadvantage,” said Mr. Goemans. “Russia has more troops, more weapons, but Western tanks will make a big difference.”
Germany shipped its first Leopard 2 in 1979, the country’s third-generation main battle tank, replacing the first-generation Leopard. The Leopard 2 tank is available in 4 variants: A4, A5, A6 and A7.
Ukraine is expected to receive the A6 variant, a tank that is in service with the militaries of about 18 countries, with 2,000 units shipped over the years.
Leopard 2 tank has a crew of 4, weighs 62 tons, can reach a maximum speed of 70 km / h, is equipped with 120 mm cannon and 7.62 mm gun.
In addition, Ukraine will receive the M1A2 Abrams variant, a tank with similar specifications to the Leopard 2. However, the American tank is powered by gas turbines and usually uses jet fuel, while the Leopard 2 use diesel engine.
European countries are planning to donate Leopard 2 tanks in service to Ukraine. Kiev could receive 88 Leopard 2s, or two battalions, in the next few months. It is not clear when Ukraine will receive the M1 Abrams tank.
Western tanks will arrive in Ukraine at a critical time, when Kiev is preparing to deal with a potential new Russian offensive, as well as planning to launch the next counter-offensive campaign.
Western experts believe that the Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams tanks will greatly support the Ukrainian army in the fierce fighting in the Donbass region, where bloody fighting is taking place, as well as the southeast region. Zaporizhzhia province.
John Herbst, director of Asia-European affairs at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank, said Western tanks would help Ukraine defend its defenses against attacks. continuous attack with the overwhelming number of Russia. The thick armor and powerful firepower of these two tanks will also help Ukraine reduce casualties on the battlefield.
“They will become invaluable if Russia launches a major offensive from Belarus or other regions this year, as Ukrainian intelligence services have predicted,” Herbst said.
“If the tanks arrive in Ukraine in the next few months, they can be deployed by Ukraine for a new counterattack on flat terrain in the east and south,” the expert said.
Western experts also believe that M1 Abrams and Leopard 2 tanks can help Ukraine launch an operation to retake Crimea, the peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.
Ukraine has repeatedly asked the West for the past several months to deliver heavy tanks. However, Germany hesitated to respond to the request due to fear of escalating tensions with Russia and sought to persuade the US and other NATO allies to make the same move.
The tank debate became more heated after Britain announced the delivery of some Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, pressuring Germany and the US to follow suit.
At that time, Germany declared “not alone” in the aid of Leopard 2 tanks, and the US announced that it would not transfer M1 Abrams to Ukraine for fear of difficult maintenance on the battlefield.
However, the US and Germany last week changed their mind and decided to transfer tanks to Ukraine, marking a new turning point on the battlefield. “This decision was made based on the efforts and commitment of many countries to help Ukraine defend its sovereignty,” US President Joe Biden said. “We will not allow any country to use force to seize another country’s territory.”
Nguyen Tien (Theo Hill)