Ukraine is reportedly getting its 1st advanced Western battle tanks on invasion's anniversary
Poland is delivering the first of 14 promised German Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine on Friday, exactly one year after Russia launched its full-scale invasion, Bloomberg News reports. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who arrived in Kyiv on Friday to mark the one-year anniversary of the war, will announce the delivery during his visit, an official tells Bloomberg.
The arrival of advanced Western tanks on Friday would be ahead of schedule. Ukrainian tank crews pulled from the front lines started training on the Leopards in Poland on Feb. 4, and in Germany on Feb. 13. The condensed training was expected to last 30 days. Poland invited reporters to watch the training during Polish President Andrzej Duda's Feb. 13 visit to the training site. The Ukrainian tank commander, Maj. Vadym Khodak, told reporters his 105 troops at the Polish base — 21 tank crews — are learning fast.
"My soldiers like it a lot," Khodak told CNN. "This machine is good quality."
With additional tanks from Canada and Norway, Duda said, he hopes Ukraine will get at least a full armored brigade — usually 65 tanks — in the near future. Britain is also sending (and training Ukrainians to use) Challenger 2 tanks, and the U.S. has pledged 31 M1 Abrams.
The Abrams tanks are not expected to arrive for a while. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told CNN on Thursday night that the mechanized infantry the U.S. and its NATO allies have already been sending Ukraine and training to use, plus additional artillery, will give Ukraine "the ability to breach Russian defenses and maneuver, and I think that will create a different dynamic" in the war.