Leopard 2: A world-class tank will soon fight Russia in Ukraine.

Ukraine has been at war for a year now. Battling is intense in and around the city of Bakhmut. Since the Russian forces have made gains, the situation for the Ukrainian military has deteriorated. Nonetheless, Ukraine has begun receiving its first Leopard 2 main combat tanks.

Russian Casualties in Ukraine: Update

In recent days, Russian forces have made some progress in and around Bakhmut, but at the cost of heavy casualties. In the past 48 hours, the Russian military and the private military company Wagner Group have lost nearly 1,400 soldiers killed or wounded in combat.

In all, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry claimed that as of Thursday, Ukrainian forces had killed some 150,605 Russian soldiers (and wounded roughly double or triple as many).

Equipment destroyed includes:

  • 300 combat, attack, bomber, and transport aircraft.
  • 288 attacks and transport helicopters.
  • 3,397 tanks.
  • 2,398 artillery pieces.
  • 6,658 armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, and 480 launch systems MLRS).
  • 18 ships and cutters.
  • 5,264 vehicles and fuel tanks were destroyed by Ukrainian air defenses, as well as 247 anti-aircraft batteries, 2,058 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 230 platforms for specialized equipment like bridge vehicles, four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 873 cruise missiles.

Leopard 2 main battle tanks have arrived in Ukraine

Ukraine has received its first Leopard 2 main battle tanks. The first four Leopard 2 main combat tanks were just given to the Ukrainian army, as stated by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

It will take some time before the German-made main battle tank makes an appearance in Ukrainian battlefields and cities. Before more Leopard 2s can be deployed as whole platoons and companies, Ukrainian crews need to get training on the systems’ armaments.

The Leopard 2 has had to go through a geopolitical saga with many protagonists to reach Ukraine. As the manufacturer and exporter of the main battle tank, Germany was responsible for approving any transfer by a third party. But Berlin strongly opposed sending the tank to Ukraine.

Other nations, like Poland, have even threatened to act unilaterally and send tanks to the suffering Ukraine without Germany’s legal consent.

In the end, the German government relented after much geopolitical pressure, including the US decision to send 31 M1 Abrams main battle tanks. Berlin announced that it would send several Leopard 2 tanks and also gave third countries the green light to send theirs.

Illustrative: German army soldiers load a Leopard 2 tank onto a truck at the Sestokai train station, about 175 kilometers (109 miles) west of the capital Vilnius, Lithuania, on February 24, 2017.

The Battle of Bakhmut

Fighting continues in and around Bakhmut. The situation is becoming more difficult for the Ukrainian forces, and Kyiv may choose to withdraw its troops from the city to live and fight another day.

On the other hand, the beginning of the seasonal Rasputitsa, which are seas of mud that appear following the melting of winter snows, is taking its time. That would seriously hamper any large-scale evacuation effort, as even tracked vehicles have difficulty on unpaved roads.

However, the Ukrainian authorities remain confident that they can carry out an orderly withdrawal from the city if necessary.