Polish officials observe training of Ukrainians on new tanks

Swieczow, Poland – Poland’s president and defense minister on Monday ordered the Ukrainian military to operate German-made Leopard 2 tanks provided to Kiev by several European countries and Canada to help fight a Russian aggression. I met with Polish and foreign instructors who train intensively.

President Andrzej Duda and Minister Mariusz Blaszczak also observed Leopard 2 training at the military base and proving ground in Swietoszow in southwestern Poland. The training is part of the European Union’s military assistance to Ukraine, but like the Norwegians, Canadian instructors have a role to play.

Participating are Ukrainian tankmen from units fighting in the eastern part of the country. The Polish military said the intensive training would last up to 10 hours a day, including weekends. Instruction is also given in Germany.

Duda hopes the tanks will support Ukrainian forces “in a much more efficient way to defeat the enemy.”

He said the Ukrainian trainees came straight from the front line. “You can see on their faces that they’ve been through terrible things, but they’re determined to defend their country.”

Krzysztof Sieracski, a Polish instructor and senior staff officer, said Ukrainians are so eager to learn everything quickly that instructors “have to hold them back and pass on their knowledge in small batches.” said.

The trainee commander, Major Vadim Kodak, said all had combat experience.

“They did not come from the streets, they fought in our tanks for a long time, so I think it will be much easier for them to learn how to operate these tanks,” said Kodak from Dnipro in eastern Ukraine. Told.

Kodak said modern tanks would be of great help.

EU Poland Ukraine Tank training
A Polish soldier pilots a Leopard 2 tank during training at a military base and proving ground in Swietoszow, Poland, February 13, 2023. (Michal Dyjuk/AP Photo)

“If you learn how to use them, you can test them in combat conditions and you will see great results,” he said.

Świedszów is home to the Polish 10th Armored Cavalry Brigade and the US Armored Cavalry Combat Group.

Warsaw is one of the most active supporters of neighboring Ukraine and has asked European countries to provide Leopard 1 and 2 tanks. Germany has pledged to purchase at least 178 Leopard 1 tanks and 14 Leopard 2s. Poland has pledged to purchase 14 Leopard 2s. Other contributors included Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands, with the UK pledging a Challenger tank and the US an M1 Abrams main battle tank.

Duda was especially grateful to Germany for the availability of German-made tanks in Kiev and for Germany’s own contribution.

Poland has also provided or promised more than 300 Soviet-era T-72 tanks and modernized PT-91 tanks.

Ukrainian officials say the Kremlin has sought to secure territory it illegally annexed in late September, and that its control is welcomed, prompting Russian forces to carry out renewed offensives in eastern and southern Ukraine. I expect you to do it.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said last week that the first battalion of 31 Leopard 1 tanks should be deployed in Ukraine in April. The first tank-trained Ukrainian soldiers left for Germany last week.

Rafal Nizierski