Ukraine running out of tanks as military struggles to repair machinery damaged by Russia
02/06/2024 // Cassie B. // Views

The Ukrainian military is currently facing a severe shortage of tanks as Russia continues to destroy much of their fleet, while other tanks have sustained damage that Kiev lacks the capacity to repair.

This is according to Foreign Affairs magazine, who reports that a substantial number of Leopard 2 battle tanks Ukraine received from foreign states are no longer in service. More than one fourth of them have been destroyed by Russian troops. The German-made tanks used by Ukraine were lauded as game-changers, but the outlet says that Ukraine is quickly discovering they are “hardly invulnerable superweapons.”

Foreign Affairs noted: “Of the fewer than 100 Leopard 2s in Ukrainian service, at least 26 have been knocked out; others cannot be used due to repair and maintenance issues.”

They added that Kiev does not have the type of infrastructure in place that it needs to maintain the fleet of tanks.

Tanks from Germany and U.S. not enough to help inept Ukrainian troops

Early last year, Germany announced it would be supplying Leopard 2 tanks to Kiev, which are sturdy tanks that hold four people and weigh around 70 tons apiece. They were used in the earlier parts of Ukraine’s counteroffensive last summer but did not manage to make an impact against the deep defensive lines set up by Russia.

Military analysts don’t think better tanks would have helped matters; one big problem was the rushed training given to Ukrainian tank crews. The tank brigades were reportedly given just five weeks of instruction on using these complex machines, and they consisted of “inexperienced formations” lacking experience in combat.

However, earlier this month, a member of Germany’s Green Party, Sebastian Schafer, told the German newspaper Der Spiegel that Ukraine had “very few” Leopard tanks remaining, and some were no longer functioning. He reported that they lacked the spare parts needed to repair them following a visit to one of their repair facilities in Lithuania. He added that Kiev’s untrained forces were making the damage worse by trying to repair the tanks without the proper knowledge and parts.

On a recent visit to a Leopard A26 platoon, German TV network NTV reported that only one of the unit’s four tanks was ready for combat.

The U.S. provided Ukraine with 31 M1 Abrams battle tanks last year, with the first ones arriving in October. These tanks also failed to make an impression, with Forbes saying it was “not clear" what they were even doing with the expensive machinery. It is believed that they might not have been used in combat at all as Ukraine spends time “up-armoring them to resist attacks by Russia’s explosive-laden first-person-view drones” – an unusual step considering the U.S. refurbished them extensively before shipping them out.

Not surprisingly, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claims they haven’t been given enough tanks to make headway. This is par for the course for the politician, who devotes much of his time to shaking down Western nations for financial and material support.

Russia has capacity to replace lost tanks quickly

Russia, meanwhile, appears to be faring far better when it comes to replacing its own tanks, with the UK Defense Ministry noting in a recent intelligence update that although Russia’s ground forces are losing roughly 100 tanks per month, they are capable of replacing them at a similar rate, maintaining their offensive effort even in the wake of major losses.

The ministry explained: "Russia can probably generate at least 100 MBTs a month and therefore retains the capacity to replace battlefield losses and continue this level of offensive activity for the foreseeable future."

They report that Russia has lost 2,600 main battle tanks and a further 4,900 armored vehicles since fighting with Ukraine began in February 2022. While Ukraine’s numbers aren’t as high, their inability to repair and replace them puts them at a major disadvantage. Russia also has manpower, industrial and material advantages over Ukraine.

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