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May 1, 2022
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T-72: Warsaw will give the Armed Forces of Ukraine two hundred “steel coffins”

In the photo: T-72 tanks

In the photo: T-72 tanks (Photo: ZumaTASS)

As military aid, Poland has supplied Ukraine with more than 200 T-72 tanks and several dozen infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), Polskoye Radio reports. However, official information on the amount of heavy equipment transferred to the Kyiv authorities from Warsaw is not yet available. The message of the radio station also notes that this number of tanks is quite enough to create two brigades.

Former head of the Polish government Mateusz Morawiecki answered in the affirmative to the question about sending tanks to Ukraine. However, he refused to give details about the types of equipment and its quantity. Head of the Polish National Security Bureau Pavel Solokh On the air of the Polsat TV channel, he also did not disclose details, saying that “this is a significant amount.” Until recently, the Polish army had 384 T-72 tanks in service, as reported by the country’s defense ministry. If the data on the number of transferred tanks is true, then Warsaw transferred to the Armed Forces of Ukraine more than half of the vehicles of this type that were in service.

“I will not name specific numbers. Poland has supplied, is supplying and will continue to provide military assistance to Ukraine, including T-72 tanks,” Solokh said. He also named Poland among the countries most actively supplying weapons to Kyiv – the third after the US and the UK. Formerly spokesman for the Polish government Peter Muller tweeted that his country had transferred equipment to Ukraine worth about 7 billion zlotys, which is more than 1.6 billion dollars. He also stated that this weapon “saves Ukrainian and Polish sovereignty.” In addition to tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, the Ukrainian side received from Poland 2S1 Gvozdika self-propelled howitzers, Grad multiple launch rocket systems, air-to-air missiles for Su-27 and MiG-29 aircraft. In addition, there is evidence that the Poles also handed over drones to WB Electronics and Piorun portable air defense systems.

It should be noted that there is no information on how the Ukrainian side will pay for these deliveries in official reports. Some publications previously suggested that Kyiv receives some of the weapons free of charge, and some on credit.

Military expert, doctor of military sciences Konstantin Sivkov noted some circumstances related to the receipt by Kyiv of Polish military equipment.

“Of course, two hundred tanks is a serious number, and under other, more favorable conditions for the Ukrainian side, they could greatly harm our military. But the question is whether they now have crews for these machines. There is information that recently they are often formed from recruits who do not have sufficient experience in operating such machines. The fact is that during the fighting, the Ukrainian army lost many trained tankers. And beginners are unlikely to be able to succeed on the battlefield right off the bat. These are serious difficulties that the Ukrainian army cannot solve.

“SP”: – In addition to personnel, what other problems do the Armed Forces of Ukraine have in this regard?

– The work of our attack aircraft. It should be recalled that we are destroying equipment transferred to Kyiv by Western countries with our missile strikes on military columns. This happens regularly. Routes are established, tracked, and surveillance is carried out along known routes for the delivery of weapons. During the operation, our aviation has already ground a huge number of such tanks.

Some of the vehicles were destroyed in battles, and they were driven by well-trained crews. But since the start of the operation, the APU has significantly fewer such specialists in military equipment. I do not rule out that out of these 200 Polish tanks only a few dozen will reach the combat zone directly.

“SP”: – And how can the T-72 tanks themselves be a formidable force?

– At one time, Poland received them into its armed forces thanks to the Soviet Union. These were pretty good cars, but it is worth noting that the Poles were armed with an export modification. It is somewhat inferior in combat properties to the model that the Soviet army had. However, I repeat the main problem of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is the availability of competent tankers and the work of our aviation.

Military expert, retired colonel Viktor Litovkinin turn, he believes that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are unlikely to have great difficulties with the formation of tank crews.

– Still, let’s not forget that in Ukraine the tank industry was quite developed and there were good tank troops. She produced the same modifications of the T-72 tank, some other types, as well as infantry fighting vehicles. All this requires the presence of management specialists. So, theoretically, they should be.

“SP”: – What can prevent them from doing this?

– Let me remind you that at the beginning of our military operation in Ukraine, the number of tanks was 900-1000. As a result of our strikes, approximately 2.5 thousand were destroyed. And now the Poles are sending two hundred more – seemingly significant assistance to the Ukrainian side. But at the same time, there is no doubt that our military will track their movement and strike – tanks, their transportation, are difficult to hide. So, our military will dispose of them, there is no doubt about it. And it is possible that the APU will not receive these machines. And no matter how much Poland beats its chest, that it is one of the countries most actively opposed to “Russian aggression” is just rhetoric.

“SP”: – Were the transferred T-72 tanks produced back in the socialist period?

“These are not Soviet tanks. Poland once produced these machines under a license issued by the Soviet Union. In general, the Poles at that time produced a lot of weapons under our license – infantry fighting vehicles, self-propelled artillery mounts, Igla MANPADS, etc. So, they had a rather rich arsenal. These T-72s, yes, they are old, but better than the Abrams, which the United States is now supplying to Warsaw.

SP: Even so?

– The T-72 has an automatic loader, a crew of three. The American car does not have such a machine and the crew is five people. Of course, it is difficult to say in what condition the Poles are handing over the T-72 to Kyiv. But overall they are pretty good cars. And the question is whether the Ukrainian side will be able to put them into action.

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