Kyiv rejected a delivery of Leopard tanks from Germany after discovering that they were defective.
Ten Leopard 1 tanks, the predecessor to the more sophisticated Leopard 2, required maintenance that Kyiv could not perform because of a lack of trained engineers, Germany’s Der Spiegel reported. As a result, Kyiv said, it had no use for them.
The Ukrainian army noticed the defects upon receiving the tanks in the southern Polish city of Rzeszów.
After sending its own technicians to inspect the vehicles, Berlin conceded that they weren’t working properly and would need further repairs before being sent to the front line.
The situation is embarrassing for Germany, not least because it is the second time that technical problems have arisen with its tanks.
The most recent consignment is the second lot of a supply of 110 Leopard 1s from Germany. Ukraine reported serious technical issues with the first 10 tanks delivered in July.
Ukrainian soldiers were intensively trained on Leopard 1s during the spring when Germany also sent a consignment of Leopard 2s.
It’s not clear if problems with the hardware had been caused by this wear and tear, but they will nevertheless raise questions about Germany’s ability to supply Ukraine at each critical stage of its counter-offensive.
Berlin reportedly prioritised training tank crews over training technicians skilled in repairs, at Kyiv’s request.
Military experts warned earlier this year that establishing effective logistics lines and technical training would be paramount for keeping the equipment running.
First developed in the 1960s, the Leopard 1 received its last update in the 1990s and was decommissioned by the German army a decade ago.
Kyiv had repeatedly pressured Germany to send them Leopard 2s, saying that they were vital for punching through Russian defensive lines.
Germany was initially reluctant, fearing that it would escalate the war, but later about-turned in January.
Meanwhile, Germany announced this week that it would give a further €400 million in military support to Ukraine, with the vast majority of the package being munitions supplies.
Kyiv has been pushing for Berlin to equip it with Taurus cruise missiles.
But the German government has yet to make a decision on the system, which has a range of over 300 miles.