Running Away, Faking Breakdowns, German Media Says Leopard-2 Tankmen Are Reluctant To Fight Russia

Ukrainian tank crew engaged in the counteroffensive in the Zaporizhzhia region are reportedly faking combat vehicle breakdowns due to their concerns about confronting the Russian army. 

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This information was reported by Spiegel, a German publication, based on discussions with representatives of the Leopard 2 tank crew, who are stationed close to the conflict zone.

The report quoted a 22-year-old loader, using the call sign Gudzik, as saying that some soldiers refuse to participate in the war, and some simulate tank damage to avoid engaging in battle.

Spiegel report says that the three Leopard 2 crew members interviewed by the publication do not condemn the soldiers who refuse to participate in the war, as they understand the risks involved, acknowledging that if a Russian shell were to hit the turret of a combat vehicle, “then you [Tank operator] will become a pile of ashes.” 

The crew members of the Leopard 2A6, assigned with the task of firing at enemy trenches in the initial phase of the counteroffensive, have confirmed to the publication that three of their tanks encountered minefields laid by Russian troops. 

A photo of the damaged Bradleys and other vehicles: Twitter

The mines were dispersed extensively across the area, posing a significant threat to the tanks. The Ukrainian tankers explained that one of the German tanks suffered irreparable damage and could not be restored. Another tank became immobilized due to the impact of mines.

Furthermore, the crew mentioned that the third tank remains unreachable due to a large number of mines and the presence of the damaged American-made Bradley infantry fighting vehicle blocking its path. 

This account underscores that the presence of mines laid by Russian forces poses a severe risk to the advancing Ukrainian tank units. 

The publication quoted the gunner “Misha” as stating that the adversaries they are facing are not inexperienced fighters. “It’s not newcomers who are fighting on the other side. They would have fled if Leopard had fired at them. But these bastards are strong,” Misha added. 

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Regarding his role as a gunner, Misha states that he primarily utilizes fragmentation ammunition to target enemy trenches. 

He describes that his tactic involves aiming at a tree, which leads to the fragments spreading in various directions, ultimately causing casualties among those in the trench.

This approach aims to neutralize enemy forces effectively, according to the information provided by the magazine’s interviewee.

He also raised concerns about the Leopard tank’s laser guidance system, particularly when engaging “secondary targets” during nighttime operations. 

Misha noted that regular adjustments are necessary due to this issue. The tanker mentioned that it is common practice in German tanks to replace the stabilizing “module” for guidance frequently.

The Ukrainian soldiers received training in Germany from mid-February to the end of March before engaging in the country’s counteroffensive operation. 

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu recently confirmed that Ukrainian troops had launched an anticipated offensive across different sectors of the front, deploying substantial equipment and manpower. 

File Image: Leopard 2 Tank

However, the armed forces of Ukraine encountered a significant setback during a particular offensive on the Zaporizhzhia front, which has garnered major attention due to the destructive outcome and the subsequent abandonment of multiple US-made Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and Leopard 2 tanks.

The Ukranian personnel noted that the fighting in Ukraine is exacting a high cost on the Ukrainian forces, as evidenced by the sight of wheezing and bloodied soldiers being taken to hospitals a few kilometers behind the front lines.

According to the account provided, front-line medical personnel reported a notable surge in the number of wounded individuals in recent days, while a Ukrainian intelligence officer responsible for monitoring the entire southern front shared with Spiegel concerning reports of substantial losses in terms of personnel and equipment.

In addition, the publication conducted interviews with soldiers from the nationalist battalion “Azov.” Based on their accounts, during the counteroffensive, there were instances where two Ukrainian units mistakenly engaged in friendly fire. 

The Azov fighters also confirmed that Russian troops seized two tanks as war trophies, adding to the complications faced by the Ukrainian forces. 

Nonetheless, although Kyiv did experience the loss of some of its German-made tanks during the ongoing conflict, this outcome was anticipated by many experts owing to the significant defender advantage held by Russia. 

As the defending force, Moscow has effectively employed artillery strikes, which exposed Ukraine’s equipment to heightened enemy fire, resulting in the loss of tanks and infantry vehicles.