A drawn-out back and forth between Ukraine, the U.S. and European NATO countries in January led to the first pledges for deliveries of Western-made tanks to the Ukrainian military. However, at the end of March, only one full battalion will have been delivered to Ukraine from Europe instead of the planned two as even promises from countries pushing for the deliveries were taken back or delayed.
Earlier this week, Ukrainian soldiers finished a four-week training on German-designed Leopard 2 tanks in Spain, making the country’s military ready to receive the tanks. Poland will have provided 14 Leopard 2 units by the end of the month – some of which have already arrived in Ukraine -, while Germany and Portugal will have delivered 18 and 3, respectively. This is according to the Ukrainian online publication Defense Express. In fact, Poland is hoping to deliver 16 more tanks it is currently fixing up by the end of April, according to Bloomberg. Spain itself is attempting to get six out of the 10 promised Leopard 2 tanks, which are currently mothballed, ready for delivery this spring. At a total count of 57, these deliveries would still fall short of the 62 tanks needed for two Ukrainian tank battalions.
So what happened to the other pledges? The Netherlands, initially pledging 18 tanks, withdrew its proposition because its vehicles are loaned from Germany, which did not sign off on the additional deliveries of tanks on top of the ones it is already sending. According to German media, Denmark and Finland have also backpedaled, citing their need for the tanks at home and in existing missions, while Sweden is holding out for NATO membership – currently blocked by Turkey and Hungary.
Defense Express further lists pledges of eight Leopard 2 tanks each from Norway and Canada. But no set timelines seem to exist for these deliveries, similar to the situation in the UK, which has pledged 14 Challenger 2 tanks and wants to double that number from mothballed units at a later stage. The U.S., finally, might be looking at the longest timeline. The country which reluctantly made its own model, the M1 Abrams, available to keep its European partners at ease, is saying that deliveries will take at least months or even until the end of the year.