– Leopard 2 tanks are worth “its weight in gold for the decisive offensive” and Germany should ship more of them to the front lines, so says former ambassador to Germany now working to drum up deliveries of equipment from abroad Andrij Melnyk. He said, by Germany's Tagesspiegel: “The Ukrainian army most urgently needs many more Western battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other armoured vehicles”.
The paper notes Germany has donated 18 of the Leopard 2 main battle tanks so far, but has over 300 at home, so leading Melnyk to claim Berlin could spare more — as much as tripling the commitment — without “endangering” itself.
Melnyk has also asked for another 60 German-made Marder armoured personnel carriers, and it is claimed that his demands are not falling on unsympathetic ears. The newspaper notes senior politicians from the party of former Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Christian Democrats, saying it was important to “replace all destroyed material”.
While it is not presently public knowledge how many German-made Leopard 2 tanks have been destroyed in Ukraine since they were first publicly committed to the front line last week, it seems certain at least one has. In addition, Russia claims through their state propaganda channels to have blown up several more.
In line with this, Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu awarded the country’s highest military honour to a group of soldiers who are said to have destroyed the tanks.
The requests for more tanks are only the latest in a long programme of acquisition for Ukraine to get the equipment it needs to turn back the Russian invasion and recapture territory. Melnyk — as controversial as he may be to some — is one of the most prominent figures in that campaign to import arms, who has successfully implemented a programme of sometimes belittling Germany into handing over more.