Poland Takes the Lead Suggesting the Formation of a Coalition to Provide Tanks to Ukraine

On 11 January, during a joint press conference in Lviv involving the heads of state of Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania, Andrzej Duda, the president of Poland, announced a plan to form a coalition of allied nations interested in providing materiel to Ukraine. In addition, Duda announced that Poland would take the initiative by providing Leopard 2 tanks in military support to Ukraine. Duda said during the press conference:

“A company of Leopard tanks will be provided, as a means of forming a coalition, since, as you know, there are several formal requirements that need to be met, agreements to be formed and so on. Above all else, we want this coalition to be an international one.”

Duda also later added in a tweet that “we will put in our efforts to make sure that this coalition consists of several nations that will provide more tanks”. It appears the coalition will co-exist with the US-led Ukraine Defense Contact Group.

It is worth pointing out that the choice of sending Leopards 2 is a very intentional one, as this particular model is used across numerous countries in the EU, including Germany, Poland, Finland, Denmark, Spain and others, which ensures that there are numerous ways to source the tanks and the necessary infrastructure needed to support them. 

Polish Leopard 2A4 during exercises in 2006, the 2A4s are currently undergoing upgrades (Polish Ministry of Defense)

This point was stressed out by Pekka Haavisto, current Finland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, who, although he refused to confirm Finland’s potential contribution to the coalition as of yet, has been quoted as saying that “it is better to give the kind of material that can be sourced from different countries, that can be then more easily maintained, and where a maintenance infrastructure already exists, than to provide supplies unsteadily, drop by drop”.

Regarding Finland’s potential involvement in sending tanks to Ukraine, and in the context of his earlier point, Haavisto said that “It’s good to follow what the big countries are doing”. 

Given that, in the upcoming days and weeks we can expect mounting pressure on Germany to also get involved in the coalition, as it is both a significant operator of the Leopard 2 but is also their country of origin. It will be up to Berlin to issue re-export permits that would allow several other countries to potentially get involved in supporting Ukraine.