We'll still get Leopard. Even if there was no agreement for them at Ramstein.
There was no final refusal at Ramstein
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has already stated that Germany is ready to allow “certain countries” to train tankers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the Leopard 2. Ukraine will receive these tanks as soon as the agreement between the members of the tank coalition is ready.
In other words, a preliminary statement that during the meeting in the Ramstein format it was not possible to agree on the transfer of Leopard 2 for the Armed Forces of Ukraine is not a statement of a final refusal. It's just that the meeting participants did not have time to fully agree on all the technical and political nuances, according to which the transfer of tanks to Ukraine has already begun.
It would seem, what nuances could European Leopard 2s have for Ukraine? But that's the problem, they are there.
This is the case with the M1 Abrams, everything looks linear. Among Western countries, only the United States has such tanks – 2600 vehicles in service and about 3500 more in storage. Here, only the White House and the Pentagon need to ask for a transfer.
As for the Leopard 2, a total of 14 European countries have only about 1,400 of these tanks in service. That is why the idea of a tank coalition arose. Like, 14 operator countries will definitely recruit at least a hundred vehicles for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. But then it turned out that the situation is far from homogeneous, and it is not possible to assemble a hundred cars as quickly as it seemed.
What problems did the West have from Leopard for Ukraine
For example, Poland has 237 tanks of the Leopard 2A4, Leopard 2A5 and Leopard 2Pl types (formally more than even in the Bundeswehr). However, Warsaw can provide only 14 vehicles, because it has radically changed its defense policy. She is forming new infantry and mechanized divisions, so now every vehicle is “worth its weight in gold” for her.
Formally, Spain has the most Leopard 2 in Europe – 327 cars. But it turns out that the Spanish Ministry of Defense spends about 100 million euros a year on parts and maintenance. This is with a defense budget of 10 billion euros. If our country spent so disproportionately little on “armor”, we would have met February 2022 without combat-ready tanks.
Indeed, Finland declared its readiness to give us its Leopard 2. But the nuance is that the Finns bought those 100 tanks in service directly from Germany. The remaining 100 tanks, which are now stored, were already purchased in Holland in 2014-2019. It seems that Finnish tank issues will have to be coordinated not only with the Germans directly, but also “indirectly” with the Dutch.
Thus, the Netherlands declared its readiness to “pay for deliveries of Leopard to Ukraine.” But, if you carefully read the words of the Minister of Defense of the Netherlands, then there was a speech that The Hague is ready to pay for us the repair of tanks standing “in the open” in storage at German factories.
We are talking about 20 Leopard 2 units and 80 Leopard 1 units. It takes from 8 months to 1 year to restore them. Therefore, here further the question arises of the appropriateness of such a step.
Everything that is done is in favor of Ukraine
After all, the other day NATO Secretary General said that Russia would be able to recover for a new war just a few years after the upcoming defeat in Ukraine. This may be another factor that slowed down the issue of tanks on the Ramstein.
But in fact, the whole logic of events further develops in our favor. Until the members of the tank coalition eliminate all friction, our tankers will already master the Leopard 2. As soon as the decision on the vehicles is approved, there will already be crews ready for the disposal of Russians on new technological conditions.
The Russians will not even have time to go further notice how they see Leopard with crosses of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the battlefield. It might even be the last thing they see before they die.