Ukrainian troops are training on German-made Leopard tanks in Poland and put on a demonstration Monday for Polish President Andrzej Duda that was attended by reporters.
The training for Leopard tanks typically takes a few months, but the program in Poland is being expedited and is expected to be completed in one month. Currently, 105 Ukrainian troops who were pulled from the frontlines in the Donbas are being trained by Polish, Canadian, and Norwegian instructors.
Germany is expected to deliver Ukraine’s first batch of Leopard tanks by April, while the US-made Abrams tanks could take years before they arrive for Ukrainian forces to use on the battlefield. Germany and Poland are sending Ukraine the Leopard 2, and Ukraine is also due to eventually receive the older Leopard 1 model depending on how many can be refurbished.
Duda hopes that the Leopards, combined with the British Challenger 2 tanks and four Leopard 2s Canada pledged, will give Ukraine about 65 tanks in the near future. NATO is rushing to deliver Ukraine more advanced weapons as Russia is making more gains in the battle around the Donetsk city of Bakhmut.
The New York Times reported on Monday that Ukraine has banned civilians and aid groups from Bakhmut. The report said the move could be a prelude to a Ukrainian withdrawal from the Bakhmut, a city Ukraine has taken very heavy losses defending.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday that it appeared Russia has started its long-awaited major offensive. Since mobilizing 300,000 fresh troops, Russia has reinforced its positions and built up its forces, and Ukrainian officials have been warning a new Russian push is coming.