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Polish officials observe training of Ukrainians on new tanks

Polish officials observe training of Ukrainians on new tanks
Monday, 13 February, 2023, 19:06

Poland’s president and defense minister met Monday with Polish instructors intensively training Ukrainian troops to operate the German-made Leopard 2 tanks that some European countries have offered Kyiv to help fight the Russian invasion.

President Andrzej Duda and minister Mariusz Blaszczak also watched Leopard 2 training at a military base and test range in Swietoszow, in southwestern Poland. The training is part of the European Union's military assistance to Ukraine.

Taking part are Ukrainian troops from units fighting in the east of the country. The intensive training lasts up to 10 hours a day, including weekends, the Polish military said. Instruction is also being held in Germany.

Stationed in Swietoszow are Poland's 10th Armored Cavalry Brigade and a U.S. armored cavalry combat group.

Warsaw is among the most active supporters of neighboring Ukraine, and has pushed European nations to provide the Leopard 1 and 2 tanks. Germany has pledged at least 178 Leopard 1 tanks and 14 Leopard 2s. Poland has pledged 14 Leopard 2s. Other contributing countries are Denmark and the Netherlands.

Poland has also provided or pledged more than 300 of its Soviet-era T-72 tanks and modernized PT tanks.

Ukrainian officials say they expect Russian forces to make a new drive in eastern and southern Ukraine, as the Kremlin strives to secure territory it illegally annexed in late September and where it claims its rule is welcomed.

Germany's Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said last week that the first battalion of 31 Leopard 1 tanks in Ukraine should be ready in April. The first Ukrainian soldiers to be trained on the tanks departed for Germany last week.