The British and the Polish are on the move and confirmed that a three-way deal has gone through to provide Ukraine with Soviet-designed T-72 tanks to Ukraine. This comes after weeks of speculation that the two countries were working on a deal brokered by the United States as a senior defense official said that T-72 tanks were going to be delivered “within days, not weeks.”

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has confirmed the transfer after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed that the United Kingdom would be transferring Challenger II Tanks to Poland to replace the T-72s.

“We’re also looking more to what we can to do backfill in countries such as Poland, who may want to send heavier weaponry to defend… to help defend the Ukrainians,” Johnson said cautiously.

“We are looking at sending tanks to Poland to help them as they send some of their T72s to Ukraine,” Johnson affirmed.

Previous reports stated that around 100 Polish T-72 were to be sent to Ukraine. However, no definitive number of tanks could be given at this time. It is also unknown if the Polish were sending its older T-72Ms or the much more modernized PT-91 Twardy tanks that first entered service in 1995.

Despite this, Morawiecki confirmed the transfer during an interview with Polsat News. He was asked whether the tanks were already handed over or would be handed over to Ukraine, to which the Polish Prime Minister simply stated, “Yes.” He was also asked about the number of tanks to be sent to Ukraine but declined to answer due to the “safety of our Ukrainian friends.”

He further added that they were sending the tanks as the Polish were “helping our neighbors from Ukraine, but they are also helping us by…fighting for our security and peace.”

A photograph of a T-72 (K2xe, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons). Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:T_-72.jpg
A photograph of a T-72 (K2xeCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

It’s important to note that even without the Challenger 2 tanks being transferred to Poland, the Polish government had already received their order of some 119 Leopard 2 tanks from Germany and had ordered 250 M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks from the US in 2021. So it does have a sizeable tank fleet of its own even without the Challenger 2. However, one can never be too sure these days, and it is good news for the Polish to have these replacement tanks as soon as possible.

With the delivery of these T-72s to Ukraine and tank donations from multiple European countries, the Ukrainian Armed Forces now have more tanks on the battlefield than the Russians, according to a senior defense official. This comes after the Czech Republic quietly donated their own set of T-72s and 56 Pbv-501s (upgraded BMP-1s) to Ukraine. Slovenia has also donated 30-40 units of Yugoslav-made M-84 tanks (an upgraded version of the T-72). This deal in particular involved the Germans providing German-made tanks and Marder and Fuchs APCs in exchange for the M-84s.

Countries that can possibly donate their own set of T-72s are Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Hungary. However, it is unlikely that they would donate as they reportedly had no more than 100 units active for each country.

While this is good news for Ukraine, Europe needs to do better in supporting their European allies. SOFREP Editor-in-chief Sean Spoonts earlier pointed out that the US had spent over $4.7 billion in military and security packages to Ukraine. In contrast, the entirety of Europe has only donated $1.1 billion, which he described as “peanuts.”

“If we take that number and turn it into actual weapons, it doesn’t buy much at all. At a price tag of nearly $6 million a copy, $1.1 billion would buy you about 183 German Leopard 2A tanks. It would buy less than 9 Eurofighter aircraft. It would buy more in terms of artillery and rockets, but not enough to take on a Russian army with some 12,000 tanks (fewer now) and nearly 1,200 fighter jets.”

A screenshot of Statista’s statistics on the sources of Ukrainian military aid (Statista).

More Than T-72s, Possible Security Guarantees for Ukraine

During a trip to India, Johnson also revealed that Ukraine’s western allies were willing to provide Kyiv with security guarantees to prevent any foreign country from invading it again. While this does sound like Article V protection from NATO, the British Prime Minister explained that it was not but shared some similarities.

“What the Ukrainians want – and I think are now going to get – is a collection of guarantees from like-minded countries about what we can do to back them up with weaponry, with training, and with intelligence-sharing,” the Prime Minister said.

“It will, I hope, enable the Ukrainians to offer deterrence by denial and make sure their territory is so fortified as to be impregnable to further attack from Russia. That is what we need to do.”

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However, he explained that it was not a direct commitment to protect Ukraine in the case of an attack as mandated by NATO’s Article V.

“Not like an Article 5 [Nato] guarantee, but what it will be doing is enabling the Ukrainians to offer deterrence by denial and make sure that their territories are fortified so as to be impregnable in the future.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Prime Minister Narendra Modi Twitter). Source: https://twitter.com/narendramodi/status/1517500660220059649
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Prime Minister Narendra Modi Twitter)

Johnson and the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also discussed India’s reliance on Russian weapons. Johnson agreed to help India produce more weapons domestically than rely on the Kremlin. However, India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla stated that the discussion was not tough talks and that there was no pressure from Johnson.

“They did discuss the Ukraine issue, but there was no pressure. Prime Minister Johnson shared his perspective on it, Prime Minister Modi shared ours – which is that the Russia-Ukraine war should end immediately. There was no pressure of any kind,” Shringla said.

Johnson said that war might go on for some extended time but ultimately expressed support for the Ukrainian people, saying that:

“No matter what military superiority Vladimir Putin may be able to bring to bear in the next few months – I agree, it may be a long period – he will not be able to conquer the spirit of the Ukrainian people. That is an observable fact.”