The training of Ukrainian tank crews in Germany on how to operate advanced German-made tanks is on schedule, German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said while visiting a military training ground in north-west Germany.
“The goal is for the tanks, both Leopards and Marders, to be delivered [to Ukraine] by the end of March and military training to be completed by then as well,” said Pistorius on Monday at the base in the German state of Lower Saxony.
During the visit, Pistorius saw tank commanders and gunners training using live fire from the smaller Marder infantry fighting vehicles as well as training with simulators of the heavier Leopard 2 main battle tank.
Ukrainian are scheduled to receive five weeks of training on the Leopard 2A6, an advanced German-made tank that will be shipped to Ukraine.
“The difference is like between Mercedes and Lada,” said a Ukrainian soldier of how the German-made Leopard 2 lines up against the Soviet-era T-72 tanks largely deployed in Ukraine.
“The goal is to make [the Ukrainian crews] fit for war so that they can assert themselves in battle,” said a German officer, who said that about 20% of Ukrainian crews have combat experience while others have only basic military knowledge.
“The Ukrainians are all highly motivated and very inquisitive,” the German officer said.
Pistorius was joined on the visit by a leading politician from the opposition conservative Christian Democrats, as well as Ukrainian former world boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko, whose brother is the current mayor of Kiev.