Norway is to donate eight main battle tanks (MBTs) and up to four ‘special-purpose tanks’ to Ukraine, as well as earmarking funds for ammunition and spare parts, the government in Oslo announced on 14 February 2023.

The tanks will come from the Norwegian Army’s current inventory of Leopard 2A4NO MBTs, while a spokesperson for the Norwegian armed forces confirmed to ESD that the ‘special-purpose tanks’ would be armoured recovery or armoured engineering vehicles (ARVs/AEVs). The exact type of these has not yet been decided, said the spokesperson, and will be determined based on Ukraine’s needs.

Norway first announced its commitment to send tanks to Ukraine on 26 January 2023. It is not yet known when they will arrive in Ukraine, the spokesperson said.

“The decision to donate Leopard 2 tanks and ARVs/AEVs has been made after close dialogue with both the chief of defence and other European countries,” Norwegian Defence Minister Bjørn Arild Gram was quoted as saying on 14 February.

US Marine Corps M1 Abrams and Norwegian Leopard 2A4 MBTs training in Norway in February 2016. Both types have been pledged for donation to Ukraine by their respective countries. (Photo: USMC)

“The war in Ukraine is nearing a critical phase and they are dependent upon timely and substantial support. We will also contribute with educating and training Ukrainian tank crews in Poland, along with other allied countries. This donation is an important and much needed contribution,” he added.

The Norwegian government has also recently communicated to the Norwegian parliament that a support package for Ukraine for the next five years will be set up with a value in the region of NOK 75 Bn (EUR 6.89 Bn).

On 3 February 2023 Norway announced that it would order 54 new Leopard 2A7 MBTs from Germany’s Krauss-Maffei Wegmann to upgrade its MBT force, with an option for a further 18 tanks. The first of these are due to be delivered by 2026.

Meanwhile, in Brussels on 14 February, shortly before the latest meeting of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group, German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said that Portugal would donate three Leopard 2A6 MBTs to Ukraine. He added that it is currently unlikely that any more Leopard 2A6s would be donated to Ukraine beyond those Portuguese tanks and the 14 Leopard 2A6s that Germany pledged on 25 January. If this is the case then only countries operating 2A4 or older Leopards are likely to send more tanks to Ukraine.

Peter Felstead