“We have given them all that we can in terms of great materiel and good knowledge. We wish them all the luck in the world and that they succeed in freeing their country”, says Mats Ludvig, Operations Commander, Army Staff.
There are more than 3 600 such armoured tanks. The TV channel Discovery named it the best tank in the world. There is no doubt that the German armoured tank Leopard 2 - in Swedish called stridsvagn 122 - is among the best in the world. For more than 30 years, it has constituted the backbone of Swedish mechanised brigades. Now, the Ukrainian army has some ten tanks to use in their fight to free their country. The tanks are manned by soldiers that were trained in Sweden, by the Swedish army.
On 24 February 2023, on the anniversary of the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the political decision was made, which meant that Sweden were to donate some ten tanks to Ukraine. The Swedish Armed Forces army units, led by the Army staff, had already prepared for this decision - as well as to train Ukrainian personnel on how to use the Swedish tanks.
“This training was to take place in parallel with the greatest defence exercise in 30 years. At the same time, we also had a cohort of conscript soldiers doing basic training in the army. It took careful planning to organise this, and our staff that were assigned as instructors made great sacrifices to achieve these ambitious objectives. But, together we managed to organise it all and I’m very impressed with our personnel and the level of training they provided”, says Mats Ludvig.
Equally impressed is instructor and tank officer Erik, who during a couple of intense summer weeks was training the Ukrainian tank crews.
“This is something that I will always remember, because this training, it couldn't be more real or more important. It had to be good and it had to be carried out in a very short period of time. You have to bring your A-game and use all the educational tools that you have in order to optimise the training, regardless of whether the people you train used to be miners or gunners.
Now, the tanks have been in Ukraine for a while. Erik and his colleagues follow their progress and success on social media, as far as possible.
“Of course we hope that they will excel, and that the conditions on the ground are as good as possible and that the system is used as intended, in combination with Swedish combat vehicles, in order to achieve optimal effect.
Sweden used to have a total of 120 armoured tanks; a tenth of which have been donated to Ukraine.
“It was absolutely the right decision to donate the tanks, in my opinion. However, it obviously has had an effect on the capability of the army. So we need to procure new tanks as soon as possible, to increase the amount even more. Otherwise, the army will not be able to achieve the expansion objectives of Defence Resolution 2020”, says Army Chief Jonny Lindfors.