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Leopard tank for T-72: Ring exchange with Slovakia threatens to collapse

A Finnish Leopard main battle tank
picture Alliance / ASSOCIATED PRESS | Heikki Saukkomaa

Germany wants to offer its Ukrainian neighbor Slovakia Leopard main battle tanks as part of a ring swap if Slovakia in turn transfers T-72 main battle tanks to Ukraine.

But now the deal that was initiated two months ago is faltering: the 15 Leopards offered by Germany are not enough for Slovakia’s national defense.

Slovakia may be small, but it has provided Ukraine with substantial arms and materiel in recent months.

Again there are delays in German arms deliveries: Two months ago, the chancellor’s office said that Germany was preparing a so-called ring exchange with Slovakia. The deal: The country gives 7-72 ​​Soviet-era main battle tanks to Ukraine in exchange for more modern German tanks as replacements.

But nothing has happened until today. The reason: Germany offered 15 Leopard 2A4 tanks for 30 T-72s – not enough for Slovakia’s national defense, which therefore rejected the planned deal last week. The Ministry of Defense in Bratislava confirmed this to Business Insider on Monday evening: “The reality is that we cannot accept the form of support that the Czech Republic or other countries have promised. They deliver a device to the Ukraine and receive two devices from Germany or another country in return. Slovakia has 30 T-72 tanks. Therefore, 15 Leopard main battle tanks cannot be a solution for us, as we need 30 main battle tanks for a tank battalion,” says a spokeswoman. “To this end, we are negotiating with our allies to find additional forms of support for Ukraine to counter Russia’s senseless aggression against the country,” the spokeswoman said.

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The question now is whether and, above all, when there will be an agreement. The Ukrainian army is getting into more and more trouble in southern and eastern Ukraine. Although experts from NATO, among others, are preparing for a war that will last for months, the situation in some regions is likely to be decided between Ukraine and Russia by August at the latest.

Although Slovakia is a small country, it supported its neighbor Ukraine early and extensively. In addition to other weapons worth more than 150 million euros, Slovakia also donated its only S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Ukraine. To ensure that Slovakia does not remain unprotected as a result, Germany, the Netherlands and the USA have now stationed a total of four Patriot missile systems in the NATO country. In a similar ring exchange, Slovakia intends to hand over its Soviet MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine and have its own airspace protected by Poland and the Czech Republic.

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Last week, Slovakia was targeted by previously unknown hackers. These attacked the Slovakian Ministry of Defense. “This attack was relatively large, very large,” Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad told TV news channel TA3 on Friday. Thanks to the good security mechanisms of the army intelligence service, however, the cyber attack was repelled without any data being stolen, the conservative politician asserted.

Although no Russian background can be proven for the time being, he suspects that the coordinated attack of IP addresses from all over the world was a reaction to Slovakian arms deliveries to Ukraine. On Thursday, Nad announced that Slovakia had delivered five military helicopters to Ukraine, which it wanted the EU to pay for.

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