Abrams and Leopard tanks: Why are they important to Ukraine? | War news of Russia and Ukraine

Kyiv has long urged Western countries to send battle tanks, arguing that they are key to success on the battlefield.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has agreed to send his Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine.

The news comes amid reports that Washington is also ready to send dozens of M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine’s front lines.

Like Germany, the United States hesitated.

While Berlin was worried about an escalation of the war, Washington cited logistical and maintenance problems the Ukrainians might face if they received the Abrams.

Both armored vehicles are considered state-of-the-art and are more powerful than many Soviet-era tanks used by Russian and Ukrainian forces.

[Al Jazeera]

“Leopard and the American Abrams are actually twins,” Sydney Freedberg, associate editor of digital magazine Breaking Defence, told Al Jazeera.

The Leopard 2 was first produced in 1979 by Krauss-Maffei for the German Ministry of Defense.

They are in service with the armies of Austria, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain and Turkey.

[Al Jazeera]

The first M1 tank was produced by General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) in 1978 and delivered to the US Army in 1980.

“They are very similar. Large vehicles, heavily armored. Much better protected than anything the Soviets built or anything the Russians currently have,” Freedberg said.

The main difference between the Abrams and the Leopard is the engine.

The Leopard 2 has the MTU MB 873 diesel engine, which is much easier to maintain and is more widely used throughout Europe, while the Abrams uses a more powerful and complex turbine engine.

According to Freedberg, since Abram tanks are used significantly less throughout Europe, Ukraine could struggle to cope with logistical infrastructure such as procurement of spare parts, storage and general maintenance. A four-person tank will also require additional training on complex machinery.

[Al Jazeera]

Russia’s ambassador to the US said Washington’s possible delivery of Abrams tanks to Kiev would be “another blatant provocation” against Moscow and that the West would regret its “delusion” that Ukraine could win on the battlefield.

According to Alex Gatopoulos, Al Jazeera’s defense analyst, the latest-generation main battle tanks are crucial for Ukraine if it wants to break through Russian defense lines and retake territory that Russian forces seized in the first weeks of the invasion.

Southern Ukraine is flat and ideal tank territory. Russia has been building rows of trenches and fortified bunkers to stop Ukrainian advances in the area.

In the Ukrainian offensive, tanks would advance together with soldiers protected by infantry fighting vehicles such as the American Bradley, the German Mardar, and even the Russian-made BMP-2.

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