NATO tanks head to Ukraine as Putin’s troops prepare for pushback

NATO tanks are heading to Ukraine ahead of major counter offensives against the occupying Russian forces, footage has shown. The Canadian Armed Forces published photos of the German-made Leopard 2 tanks touching down in southwest Poland on social media on the final leg of their journey to Ukraine.

So far this month, British Challenger 2s and Leopard 2 main battle tanks, as well as hundreds of Western infantry fighting vehicles, including the US-made Bradleys and German-made Marders, have arrived in Ukraine.

The Canadian Leopard 2s arrived in southwest Poland on April 11 but pictures of the transition were posted on Facebook and Twitter on Monday night.

They were carried under cover of a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-117 Globemaster III plan as part of the allied nation’s pledge to send eight of the main battle tanks to Ukraine.

Spain is also planning to send six Leopard 2A4s to Ukraine soon, with delivery expected by the end of April.

Germany, which manufactures the Leopard 2s, sent an undisclosed number of the tanks to Ukraine last month, as the hardware arrived on March 27.

Military analysts and Ukrainian politicians have told that the Western tanks and fighting vehicles are “critical” to success against the Russian forces.

After a rolling Russian spring offensive failed to make any serious gains in the eastern areas, Ukraine is now preparing major counter offensives in the next few weeks.

The Western military hardware is believed to be essential to the Ukrainian attempts to push back the Russian forces in occupied territories towards the southern and eastern borders.

While information on how the counter offensives could materialise is being kept confidential – only five Ukrainian officials are aware of the exact plans – it is widely expected attempts will be made to split the Russian land corridor.

If Ukraine can push towards the occupied city of Melitopol, as military analysts have suggested to is the plan, they could sever Russian supply lines from the Crimean peninsula to Donbas, where the majority of fighting is taking place.

Ukraine’s forces currently consist of at least a dozen brigades – some sources say up to 18, according to the Economist – made up of several thousand men.

Nine of those have been armed and supplied by Western allies in total with more than 200 tanks, 800 other armoured vehicles and 150 pieces of field artillery, according to US intelligence documents leaked earlier this month.

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Equipped with less modern T-72 and T-90 tanks, Russian troops could struggle to defend against the advancing Ukrainian forces, though issues with muddy ground and a relative lack of the surprise effect have left some officials concerned.

Defence intelligence also reported that Russia has finished building three layers of defensive lines along the 75-mile frontline in Zaporizhia province.

Satellite imagery shows the dragon’s teeth anti-tank lines stretching south-east along the P37 highway in front of Melitopol.

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