German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said Wednesday that Ukraine will not be receiving as many German-made Leopard 2 tanks as promised, at least in the near term.
Ukraine was promised two full battalions by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, which totals 62 tanks, but Pistorius said Western allies are struggling to put that many together. According to Bloomberg, only Germany and Portugal have pledged to send the A6 model of the Leopard 2 tanks.
Germany has pledged to send 14 A6s while Portugal will provide three, well short of the 31 needed for a Ukrainian tank battalion. “We will not reach the size of a battalion,” Pistorius said.
Poland said it will give Kyiv 30 units of the older A4 version of the Leopard 2, but Pistorius said many of them will need repairs before they can be deployed in the battle against Russia. He said they likely won’t be delivered until the end of April, and Russia could gain a lot of territory between then and now.
Pistorius has said that Ukraine could receive up to 178 older Leopard 1 tanks depending on how many can be refurbished. But the first batch won’t be ready to be deployed until the summer, and the full delivery won’t be fulfilled until 2024.
The US is purchasing 31 of its M1 Abrams tanks for Ukraine, but they could take years to be delivered as they still need to be manufactured. Britain is planning to send 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, which could be delivered soon.
Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, the commander of the Ukrainian armed forces, said in December that Ukraine needs 300 tanks from the West, but the pledges fall well short of that number.