The first Ukrainian Leopard tanks repaired by Poland have now been returned to resume their role in Ukraine’s defence against Russia’s invasion.
“The first Leopard tanks renovated at Bumar-Łabędy [a Polish state-owned defence firm] have been received by the Ukrainian side,” announced PGZ, Poland’s state-owned defence holding company. “Work on other tanks is in progress.”
“While others make declarations regarding the future, we are acting,” it added, hinting at recent tensions between Poland and its international partners over support for Ukraine. “Our priority is real help for Ukrainian soldiers.”
“Due to the seriousness of the situation, the work was carried out in a record-breaking period of less than two months,” added Bumar-Łabędy, which noted that the tanks were handed over to Ukraine on 29 September and “will soon be on the front line”.
Podczas gdy inni składają deklaracje odnoszące się do przyszłości, my w porozumieniu ze stroną ukraińską działamy. Pierwsze ekspresowo wyremontowane w Bumarze-Łabędy czołgi Leopard zostały odebrane przez stronę ukraińską 🇺🇦 Nad kolejnymi wozami prace trwają. pic.twitter.com/anWXVvIbC5
— Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa🇵🇱 (@PGZ_pl) October 2, 2023
In April this year, PGZ announced that the Gliwice-based Bumar-Łabędy mechanical plant had agreed with Ukraine’s Ukroboronprom to establish a service centre for T-64 tanks. It was hoped that German-made Leopard tanks would also be serviced there.
Subsequently, talks took place between Poland and Germany over the issue. In mid-July, reports indicated that Berlin had pulled out of the arrangement. But later that month a German defence ministry spokesman said a deal had been reached. The first Leopards arrived for servicing at the end of July.
Western countries have pledged to donate 50 Leopard 2A4 tanks to Ukraine, and 40 have so far been delivered, reports Forbes. Of those, 14 have come from Poland.
Hub remontowy w Gliwicach rozpoczął działalność! Dwa pierwsze Leopardy już przyjechały z Ukrainy do zakładów Bumar. pic.twitter.com/VvfZSzh7Jx
— Mariusz Błaszczak (@mblaszczak) July 22, 2023
Though Poland has been a close ally of Ukraine since Russia’s invasion last year, the two countries are currently embroiled in a dispute over Ukrainian grain exports, which Warsaw has unilaterally banned.
Amid those tensions, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced that Poland is no longer providing any weapons to Ukraine because it needs to focus on boosting its own defence capabilities.
The dispute has also increased tensions with Germany, whose agriculture minister accused Poland of showing only “part-time solidarity” with Ukraine. However, as a proportion of GDP, Poland has provided more support to Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees than any other country since the start of the war.
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Main image credit: PGZ/Twitter
Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign Policy, POLITICO Europe, EUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.