As the Ukrainian counteroffensive advances with an unexpected loss of equipment, including the cutting-edge German Leopard-2 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs), Russian officials and media have asserted that the “so-called debacle” has put Ukraine and its ally Germany on the retreat.
According to Oryx, a Dutch open-source intelligence (OSINT) defense analysis website, Ukraine has lost over six tanks: some were destroyed while others were abandoned in their recent counteroffensive.
However, the figures claimed by the pro-Russian bloggers are significantly higher.
Earlier this month, the Russian Ministry of Defense released a video showcasing a German-made Leopard-2 and US-made M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle that it said were captured by its forces in Ukraine. The video went viral on social media and encouraged Russian officials to mock the German tanks.
For instance, Russia’s permanent representative to international organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, sarcastically told a Russian television channel recently that German Leopard tanks will soon be proposed to be listed in the Red Book because the Russian military is destroying them.
Red Data Book of the Russian Federation, also referred to as Red Book or Russian Red Data Book is a government publication used to record rare and endangered species of animals, plants, and fungi, as well as some local subspecies (such as the Ladoga seal) that exist on Russian Federation territory.
“I hope they will fail the trick with the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station and the offensives in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. The German Leopards will soon be proposed to be included in the Red Book because the Russians are destroying them,” Ulyanov said.
While these are jibes traded by both sides in the ongoing conflict, a strong-worded article published in the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti delivered one of the worst critiques of the German-made Leopard-2 tanks.
Footage of captured Ukrainian Bradley IFV & Leopard 2 tank. pic.twitter.com/Jri9Z7UTuv
— Clash Report (@clashreport) June 13, 2023
According to this report, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Russian war correspondents last week that the Ukrainian Military lost over 160 tanks in its counter-offensive. These figures, however, have been rubbished by Western military watchers and war-tracking groups.
Ukraine has lost more MBTs and IFVs than anticipated while attacking Russian defensive positions. Following this, the Ukrainian deputy minister of foreign affairs, Andrii Melnyk, requested Germany for more Leopard-2 tanks on top of the 18 Leopard-2A6 variants already delivered by Berlin.
Calling for urgent delivery of tanks from the 300+ inventory of Leopard-2 in Germany, the ambassador said, “Each Leopard-2 is worth its weight in gold for a decisive offensive.” However, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said that the Bundeswehr would not be able to compensate Ukraine for all the tanks destroyed or captured by the Russian Armed Forces.
Although other NATO allies, the Netherlands and Denmark, have risen to the occasion to buy 14 Leopard-2 tanks from the German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall for Ukraine, the Russian publication has used Germany’s refusal to equate it with Germany’s retreat after a faltering Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Russia Says Germany Is Retreating As It Did In WW2
Titled “Echo of Stalingrad: Germany is shocked by the losses of “Leopards” and is looking for ways to retreat,” the report likened the recent loss of tanks faced by Ukrainian troops to the battle of Stalingrad during World War II in which Nazi Germany was ousted by the Soviet Army and lost over 500 tanks.
The Battle of Stalingrad is known as the deadliest battle to take place during the Second World War, which also changed the trajectory of the war. It exemplified urban warfare and was characterized by fierce close-quarters action and direct air raid assaults on people.
The Battle of Stalingrad was considered the most decisive as it eventually resulted in the defeat of German Army Group B’s six field armies, including the obliteration of Nazi Germany’s 6th Army and an entire corps of its 4th Panzer Army.
It forced the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (the German Commander) to withdraw significant military resources from other parts of occupied Europe to replace German losses on the Eastern Front.
Translated from Russian to English, the RIA Novosti report emphatically states that in the German Defense Minister’s statement, one can make out what is being said between the lines: “We did what we could, but you fell in love with all the polymers and now figure it out yourself.”
The report further takes a subtle jibe by saying that it was understandable why the Germans delayed sending their tanks to Ukraine, and it is because they knew that burning “Leopards” in the fields of what’s left of Ukraine would be the worst possible publicity for their prodigal tank.
Not just that, the report further states that the Americans promised to send a fleet of Abrams tanks to Ukraine after poking the Germans in the back with a stick, but of course, they lied, and now Germany is bearing the blame for the disgrace of the “best in the world” Western tank manufacture alone.
Germany and US announced the transfer of their cutting-edge MBTs to Ukraine in late January. While Berlin promised delivery of 18 Leopard-2s in April, the Ukrainian troops are now getting trained on operating the US M1A1, and 31 of these tanks are slated for delivery by fall this year.
However, several military commentators have asserted that the US rushed Germany to send Leopard-2 tanks and approve the transfer of various Leopard-2 variants by other NATO operators on the premise that it was also making the shipment.
The Russian report then goes on to state that the German tanks were presented as manna from heaven, capable of reversing the hordes of Russian orcs in one fell swoop and guaranteeing the victory of Ukraine as soon as the announcements about the supply of “Leopards” to the Armed Forces of Ukraine were made.
“Numerous experts condescendingly explained to the Western audience that the flow of German tanks has the potential to change the course of the war,” that modern Western tanks are a generation ahead of (Russian) ones in destroying enemy positions,” that German tanks are much better than Russian ones” because The German Leopard 2 is considered one of the best tanks in the world in terms of its mobility, security, and firepower,” it stated.
The report then concludes that somehow the Western media projected the MBTs as “one of the best tanks in the world” could not cope with Russian weapons and the Russian spirit, and the number of Leopards destroyed or disabled in recent days is already approaching two dozen.
Although Germany has remained steadfast in supplying more military aid to Ukraine to assist its counteroffensive effort, the refusal to replace the lost tanks is being treated as a “German retreat” by the Russians.
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