Lithuania Now a Repair Hub for Ukraine’s Tanks

RUKLA, LITHUANIA — Two German Leopard tanks damaged in Ukraine were test driven in Lithuania on Friday following repairs, to showcase how the Baltic NATO member has become a hub for such work.

Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas sat on a turret on one of the tanks as he was driven along a rough road in the military training area in the central town of Rukla.

“What can I say?… A powerful tank,” he told reporters.

The tanks presented on Friday — among the first repaired in Lithuania — are expected to reach Ukraine next month, nearly two years after it was invaded by Russia.

According to the latest public data, Western countries have delivered 71 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

Some have already been damaged beyond repair during Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

Lithuania will be Europe’s only country to repair Leopard 2 A6 and A5 tanks, the company responsible for the work said.

“For these variants, this is the only hub,” Sebastian Dietz, CEO of Lithuania Defense Services, or LDS, told reporters.

The company was established by German industry giants Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, or KMW, which also manufacture the Leopard tank.

LDS took in its first tanks in October and, according to the current contract, will conduct repair work until the end of next year.

According to Dietz, the repairs were commissioned by Rheinmetall and KMW and are being carried out according to an agreement between the German and Ukrainian defense ministries.

LDS said it was ready to accept as many tanks as needed.

“We can’t plan how many units will be damaged on the battlefield,” LDS managing director Aivaras Kasuba told reporters.

Dietz said that judging from the units they have received, the tanks sustain all kinds of combat-related damage — “direct hits, mines, drone attacks and also water.”

The Leopard 2 tank was created during the Cold War, with potential clashes with the Soviets in mind.

Almost a quarter-century after the Leopard 2 was delivered to the West German army, these tanks are now being used in Ukraine against Russian forces that are still heavily dependent on Soviet arms.

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