The Parliament of Finland initiated the discussion regarding the transfer of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. At least two parliamentarians who are members of the defense committee: Anders Adlercreutz and Atte Harjanne have raised this issue. In their joint address, they noted that the supply of Western main battle tanks is extremely important for Ukraine's defense capability and repelling russia’s aggression.
And the main candidate is the Leopard 2, its transfer is seen by the allies as the most effective way of heavy armor support. In this case there is the possibility of transferring the same type of a tank, which will greatly simplify training, logistics and maintenance. In addition to Finland, this tank is in service with such countries as Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Norway, Poland and Canada (this list, including Canada, is specified in the application and is not a complete list of Leopard 2 operators).
"Joint European efforts could provide significant additional support to Ukraine's combat capability on land and, perhaps, decisively help Ukraine maintain the momentum it has achieved in the war," the appeal reads.
It is also stated that the transfer of tanks should start the process of accelerating their production, which is also a key factor in the defense capability of the Allies. At the same time, it is emphasized that "the success of Ukraine in the war is also of decisive importance for the security of Finland."
At the same time, it is necessary to realistically evaluate the possibilities of the same Finland to transfer the Leopard 2. According to the Military Balance for 2021, the country has 100 units of Leopard 2A6 in service, and another hundred Leopard 2A4 are in storage. Thus, Helsinki has quite a few machines that are not currently being used by the armed forces.
Evaluating the reserves announced by the country's deputies, the picture looks as follows (according to the Military Balance):
Germany: 225 Leopard 2A5/A6, 59 Leopard 2A7/2A7V, 55 Leopard 2A4 in stock
The Netherlands: none in service, in 2011 all 60 Leopard 2A6s were decommissioned, the number in storage is unknown
Sweden: 120 Leopard 2A5
Denmark: 18 Leopard 2A5 (upgrading to A7V), 26 Leopard 2A7V
Spain: 108 Leopard 2A4, 219 Leopard 2E
Norway: 36 Leopard 2A4, 16+ in stock
Poland: 126 Leopard 2A4 (upgrading to 2PL), 105 Leopard 2A5, 16 Leopard 2PL
Canada: 42 Leopard 2A4 (used as (sic!) targets), 20 Leopard 2A4M, 20 Leopard 2A6M
It is interesting that the Finnish parliamentarians did not add some other operators, such as Austria, Greece, Turkey, Hungary, Portugal. But even if we assume that the list of potential donors is really limited to the above countries, then we are talking about more than 1,100 tanks that are in service. And only official warehouse stocks: more than 200 units, to which it is possible to add those not indicated in the Military Balance, for example, as in the case of Spain or the Netherlands.
Of course, it is easy to count someone else's property. But in any case, remembering the need for 300 tanks, which was announced by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhnyi, this requires the announced potential donors to hand over almost all of the Leopard 2 that are publicly in storage and about 10% of those in service. At the same time, it should be taken into account that the vehicles that are in storage still need to be ready for operation not to face the situation as with the Spanish Leopard 2. And the difference between the various versions of the Leopard 2 in provision and maintenance still exists, although it is orders of magnitude smaller than in the case of Leopard 2 and Abrams.
But in any case, a collective decision to transfer the Leopard 2 is seen as a realistic scenario on the one hand due to the reduction of the burden on each donor country. But it is definitely much more complicated, because it has to be a collegial decision.
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