Ukrainian soldiers wrap up Leopard 2A4 tank training in Spain

By Marco Trujillo and Juan Medina

ZARAGOZA, Spain (Reuters) - Dozens of Ukrainian soldiers on Monday wrapped up a four-week training in Spain on how to operate the Leopard 2A4 battle tank, of which Madrid is set to deliver six mothballed units to Kyiv this spring.

A total of 40 tank crew members and 15 mechanical specialists underwent training on their use at a military base in the northeastern city of Zaragoza, Spain's armed forces said in a statement.

"It has been intense," Spanish trainer Captain Contreras - who identified himself only by his rank and surname - told reporters, who were allowed access to the drills for the fist time.

Contreras said the Ukrainians would be returning home "with a very acceptable knowledge" of the Leopards.

"Although the tanks were different, there were many systems that coincide and that has made things much easier. With that, together with the motivation that the personnel brought and their desire to learn, we see them very well prepared to resume combat."

One of the Ukrainian soldiers being trained had a patch on a sleeve sporting the slogan "Freedom or Death" underneath the Ukrainian flag.

Kyiv has secured from several of its Western allies pledges to send modern battlefield tanks to help fend off Russia's invasion as Moscow steps up its efforts to make advances in eastern Ukraine.

Last month, Spain said it plans to send six German-made Leopard 2A4 tanks to Ukraine after they undergo repairs, a number that could increase to 10.

Other NATO countries, including Germany, Poland and Portugal, have said they would deliver a total of 48 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

(Reporting by Marco Trujillo and Juan Medina; Writing by Emma Pinedo; Editing by David Latona and Angus MacSwan)