Ukraine: The Latest - Why is Ukraine telling Germany to stop sending tanks?

Leopard 1A5 main battle tanks arrive at a military training ground where Ukrainian tank crews are being trained to operate and maintain them by German and Danish military personnel
Leopard 1A5 main battle tanks arrive at a military training ground where Ukrainian tank crews are being trained to operate and maintain them by German and Danish military personnel - Sean Gallup/GETTY

Today on Ukraine: The Latest, we bring you updates from the battlefront, analyse events this week in New York at the UN and discuss a rather unique story of Ukraine asking a major Western nation to stop sending tanks.

Joining the podcast today is Former Tank Regiment Commander & Chemical, Biological, and Nuclear Weapons Expert Hamish De Bretton-Gordon. He unpicks the story that Ukraine is asking Germany to cease sending tanks.

Ukrainians really wanted Western armour. But now they’ve got four types of it. They’ve got the Leopard 1 and Leopard 2, they’ve got Challenger 2 and Abrams just crossing the border now. 

All very different tanks, all need to be maintained. They actually need a lot of careful looking after and maintenance, and when they’re all different, they’ve got different engines, different ammunition, different tracks, et cetera.

I think for the Germans to hand over over a hundred Leopard 1s  that were destined to Ukraine, for them not to work, is really not good. 

Now they have been in storage for 10 years, and I can think, and I think Leopard 1 one equates to Chieftain [tank] and crikey, imagine if you locked your Chieftain up for 10 years and then took it out of the garage? Virtually every seal would’ve blown and it would take weeks, if not months, to get it up and running again.

Host of today’s podcast, Dominic Nicholls (Associate Editor for Defence) continues Hamish’s point:

This highlights once again: tepid oil. We’ve spoken about tepid oil before, it’s the components of capability.

For example, you go and buy kits, go and buy a tank, go and buy a gun, go and buy some body armour. But unless you have tepid oil, which is training, equipment, personnel, information, how are you going to use it? Infrastructure, doctrine, organisation, information and logistics.You need to have a small tick in each of those boxes, otherwise you’ve just got something sitting sitting on the tank park. 

Dom sums up what he sees to be the problem:

I think what’s also happening here with these old Leopard 1s is the logistic tail was such that they just didn’t have the people who knew how to fix them anymore. So whilst a lot of the tank might have worked, small parts of it might not. You need the whole thing to work!

Listen to Ukraine: the Latest, The Telegraph’s daily podcast, using the audio player at the top of this article or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favourite podcast app.

War in Ukraine is reshaping our world. Every weekday The Telegraph’s top journalists analyse the invasion from all angles - military, humanitarian, political, economic, historical - and tell you what you need to know to stay updated.

With over 40 million downloads, our Ukraine: The Latest podcast is your go-to source for all the latest analysis, live reaction and correspondents reporting on the ground. We have been broadcasting ever since the full-scale invasion began.

Ukraine: The Latest’s regular contributors are:

David Knowles

David is Head of Audio Development at The Telegraph, where he has worked for nearly three years. He has reported from across Ukraine during the full-scale invasion.

Dominic Nicholls

Dom is Associate Editor (Defence) at The Telegraph, having joined in 2018. He previously served for 23 years in the British Army, in tank and helicopter units. He had operational deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.

Francis Dearnley

Francis is assistant comment editor at The Telegraph. Prior to working as a journalist, he was chief of staff to the Chair of the Prime Minister’s Policy Board at the Houses of Parliament in London. He studied History at Cambridge University and on the podcast explores how the past shines a light on the latest diplomatic, political, and strategic developments.

They are also regularly joined by The Telegraph’s foreign correspondents around the world, including Joe Barnes (Brussels), Sophia Yan (China), Nataliya Vasilyeva (Russia), Roland Oliphant (Senior Reporter) and Colin Freeman (Reporter). In London, Venetia Rainey (Weekend Foreign Editor), Katie O’Neill (Assistant Foreign Editor), and Verity Bowman (News Reporter) also frequently appear to offer updates.

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