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Poland supplied 10 more Leopard tanks to Ukraine: defence minister

09.03.2023 14:45
The Polish defence minister has said that his country has transferred 10 more Leopard 2A4 tanks to help Ukraine fight Russia's invasion, and that Ukrainian soldiers have completed training on Leopards in Poland.
Mariusz Błaszczak.
Mariusz Błaszczak.PAP/Jakub Kaczmarczyk

Mariusz Błaszczak made the announcement at a news conference in Warsaw on Thursday, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

Leopard tanks for Ukraine

The defence minister, who also serves as a deputy prime minister, told the media: “We have transferred 10 more Leopard 2A4 tanks to Ukraine. The programme to train Ukrainian soldiers to operate these tanks has also been completed.”

He added: “We have ensured that a whole battalion of Leopard 2A4 tanks has been assembled for Ukraine. In this way, as part of an international coalition, we are supporting Ukraine.”

Błaszczak noted that Canada had pledged eight tanks, "Norway also eight, and Spain at least six.”

He added: “I spoke to Spain’s defence minister, Margarita Robles, who said that maybe her country would provide four more tanks.”

Błaszczak said Leopard 2A4 tanks from Canada, Norway and Spain would arrive in Ukraine “very shortly.”     

In addition, Ukraine is set to receive older Leopard 1 tanks from German stocks, while the Swedish government also said it planned to supply a local version of Leopards to Kyiv, the PAP news agency reported. 

For its part, Poland had pledged to donate 14 Leopard 2A4s to Ukraine. On February 24, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki marked the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine by announcing in Kyiv that Poland had supplied the first four Leopard 2A4 tanks to the Ukrainian army. 

Maintenance hub for Ukraine’s Leopard tanks in Poland

The Polish defence minister told reporters on Thursday: “We are launching work to organise a maintenance hub that will be tasked with servicing and repairing the tanks that have been provided, or will soon be provided, to Ukraine.” 

He added that the hub would be located “at the Bumar-Łabędy factory” in the southern Polish city of Gliwice.

Błaszczak said he had discussed the project with German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius.

“The challenge is to secure spare parts for these tanks," he declared. "Production was halted 20 years ago, but we are ready to resume it, obviously in cooperation with Germany."

Ukrainian soldiers complete training on Leopard tanks in Poland

Błaszczak announced that Ukrainian soldiers had completed a training course in operating Leopard tanks, provided by Polish, Canadian and Norwegian instructors.

Błaszczak said the Ukrainian troops trained in the southwestern Polish village of Świętoszów were “experienced soldiers" who "previously used post-Soviet equipment.”

He added that many of them joined the Ukrainian army after Russia first attacked their country in 2014.

The Polish defence minister said: “I had an opportunity to talk to them … They are highly motivated soldiers who came to Poland practically from the frontline, and who acquired the appropriate skills in a short space of time.”

He declared: “I’m convinced that they are excellently prepared to use the Leopard tanks as intended.”

Poland ready to send MiG jets to Ukraine

Błaszczak was also asked by reporters about President Andrzej Duda’s declaration in a CNN interview that Poland was prepared to transfer post-Soviet MiG-29 jets to Ukraine. 

The defence minister said: “There is complete agreement between the president and the government on this issue. I can only reiterate the president’s words.”    

Thursday is day 379 of Russia’s war on Ukraine. 


Source: PAP, rmf24.pl