NATO has committed to send over two battalions of the third-generation tank to Ukraine.
The Russian military has pledged to meet the advanced Western armor with specialized tank-hunting units.
Another Ukraine-bound Leopard 2A4 appears to have suffered damage, this time at a Polish training ground before ever getting a chance to make it to the front.
Recounting the incident, Polish Army Reserve Officer Piotr Pavelka said Ukrainian tankers apparently “just drove into each other” during maneuvers.
“It probably happened like this: one tank drove on top of the other one, drove into its armor and crashed into the turret, simply tearing the turret out of the hull,” Pavelka said.
The officer accompanied the post with images of the damaged tank, which have also appeared elsewhere online.
“I’ll be honest, I don’t remember ever seeing such clumsy vehicle control anywhere,” Pavelka said.
Ukrainian and NATO military officials have yet to comment on the incident.
However, Polish defense media received confirmation from Poland’s Armed Forces that the incident took place, indicating that it transpired on April 14 at the Leopard Training Center under the 10th Armored Cavalry Brigade in Swietoszow, western Poland. The Ukrainian tankers operating the Leopard 2s were not injured in the incident, and the damaged tank has not been deemed lost irretrievably, but transferred to a repair facility, where it will be inspected and possibly returned to service.
Polish media complained about the photos of the damaged tank being posted online, suggesting they will “now be used by Russian propaganda to spread disinformation, including false information that the vehicle was ‘destroyed’ during fighting.” The photos could also “be used to try to set Poles and Ukrainians at odds,” an outlet claimed, without elaborating.
The incident is at least the second Ukraine-bound Leopard 2 to suffer casualties. Last week, an informed source told Sputnik that Russian forces sank a captured Ukrainian Leopard 2 in a swamp in the Kherson area after it proved impossible to bring it back to Russian lines.
Poland serves as the primary land route through which tens of billions of dollars in Western military hardware is sent to Ukraine. Warsaw has delivered over 300 of its legacy Soviet-era T-72M and PT-91 Twardy tanks to Kiev over the past year, and committed 14 of the Leopard 2A4s that it purchased from Germany in the 2000s.
The Polish government has offered steadfast support for Kiev and NATO’s proxy war against Russia in Ukraine. However, a substantial and growing minority of Poles has criticized government policy, fearing an escalation of the conflict, and expressing concerns over the Ukrainian government’s lionization of Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian ultranationalist and Nazi collaborator whose militias murdered hundreds of thousands of Polish civilians during the Second World War.
Leopard 2s have been lauded as some of the most advanced tanks in NATO’s arsenal, but have proven that they’re not invincible. They faced their first combat losses in Afghanistan and northern Syria during NATO and Turkish operations in the 2000s and 2010s, where they were damaged and/or destroyed in roadside bomb attacks, and by Russian-made portable anti-tank missiles.