Ukraine’s allies have provided thousands of armored vehicles, artillery pieces, aircraft and other weapon systems to help the country fight back against Russia’s invasion. But requests for top-of-the-line, NATO-standard battle tanks — above all the German-made Leopard and US Abrams — long went unfulfilled. The US cited training and logistical hurdles and Germany said it would not make such a move alone. Yet there are reasons why Ukraine’s military wants them.
1. What tanks is Ukraine expecting to receive?
The dam appeared to break in mid-January, when the UK said it would send 14 of its Challenger 2 main battle tanks (MBTs) — a classification that refers to the heaviest, most powerful armored vehicles. On Jan. 25, Germany pledged to supply Ukraine with 112 Leopard 2 battle tanks over an unspecified period in a joint effort with allies, while the US said it would send 31 of the Abrams M1. France’s President Emmanuel Macron said he did not rule out sending the Leclerc, its own MBT. It will likely be months before NATO-designed tanks reach the front lines.
2. Weren’t some tanks and armored vehicles already sent?
Yes. Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, North Macedonia and the Netherlands have delivered at least 450 modernized Soviet-design tanks, mainly T-72s, since late February 2022. According to the open source intelligence website Oryx, Ukraine has also captured 543 tanks from Russia, many of which it has been able to redeploy. Allied pledges of armored fighting vehicles such as the US Bradley, the German Marder and French AMX-10 sparked a debate over definitions. While these also carry weapons to destroy enemy tanks, they are lighter than MBTs and used to transport infantry to the combat zone alongside them. A Bradley Fighting Vehicle, for example, is less than half the