Ukraine is using its advanced Leopard tanks like long-range artillery instead of penetrating battle vehicles, report says

  • Ukraine is using Leopard tanks more like long-range artillery than attack vehicles, AFP has reported.

  • The report said the tanks were being used defensively to hold Ukraine's line rather than to punch through.

  • The change is reported to have taken place over the past few weeks.

Ukraine is using the advanced Leopard tanks it received from its Western allies defensively rather than as penetrative offensive weapons, the news agency Agence France-Presse has reported.

The change is reported to have taken place over the past few weeks, as Ukraine's long-awaited counteroffensive against Russia turned into a more defensive effort of trying to hold positions against escalating attacks.

AFP reported that the tanks, positioned along the front lines, were now being used more like long-range artillery than attack vehicles that would lead efforts to punch through into Russia-held areas.

One soldier in Ukraine's 21st Mechanised Brigade told AFP that his brigade's tanks were "not being used in the same way as during the counteroffensive."

He said the Strv 122 tank, a Swedish variant of the Leopard 2A5, was now being used to target infantry groups or ammunition depots.

But tanks have nothing close to the range of standard artillery. A Leopard tank's 120mm cannon has an effective range of about 2.4 miles, while an M777 howitzer has a 13-mile range, more than 5 times as far.

Ukraine started its counteroffensive in June but has not made any major breakthroughs in pushing Russian forces back and retaking territory.

Ukraine's efforts are now expected to slow with the onset of winter conditions, and Russia has started to escalate attacks in some parts of Ukraine, including at Kupiansk and Avdiivka.

Ukraine's allies agreed to give it Leopard tanks in January, after months of Ukrainian requests and after pressure from its smaller allies that didn't have any of their own to give.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in August that he wanted the counteroffensive to start "much earlier," but he felt he had to wait for more Western weapons to arrive.

Waiting allowed Russia to build defenses that then "slowed down" Ukraine, he said.

Analysts previously told Business Insider that Western delays in giving Ukraine weapons probably hindered its counteroffensive efforts by giving Russia more time to prepare its defenses.

While Ukraine waited, Russia built formidable defenses and turned Ukraine into the world's most heavily mined country.

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