In a move that has surprised many, Morocco has become the first African nation to send military support to war-torn Ukraine. On November 4, 2022, the Pentagon announced that Morocco had sent twenty modernized T-72B main battle tanks to Ukraine. The tanks were paid for by the United States and the Netherlands under an agreement totaling 2.2 billion rubles (slightly more than 90 million euros).
This move by Morocco, which does not appreciate Russia’s continued support for regional rival Algeria, is seen as a way to anger Moscow. The decision to deliver arms to Ukraine was taken during the Ramstein summit on April 26, 2022, where Tunisia and Morocco were the only two countries to represent North Africa.
The Center for European Policy Analysis said on December 21 that the delivery of Moroccan military aid to Ukraine marked “a significant setback for Russia’s attempts to foster African neutrality.” The first spotting of the Moroccan T-72B tanks being refurbished for the Ukrainian Army took place during a visit by Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala to the company’s Sternberk site.
The new Czech T-72 upgrade is fitted with an ERA (Explosive Reactive Armor) kit mounted at the front and on the sides of the hull as well as the front and the roof of the turret. Morocco currently operates around 40-60 T-72Bs, and T-72BKs acquired from Belarus in 1999 and 2000.
In addition to Morocco’s support, the United States, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic have also agreed to pay for the upgrade of 45 Soviet-era T-72 tanks for use in Ukraine. However, despite several countries sending armored vehicles to Kyiv, Germany is still withholding its Leopard 2 main battle tanks. Germany is reluctant to give consent to Poland and other countries to give their Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv until the U.S. sends its Abrams first.