Before the year 2014 Ukraine decided to withdraw its T-72s from the frontline units, putting them into storage or selling them to Africa. Following the Crimean crisis, a decision had to be made to bring the T-72 back and modify it. Currently, even more of those main battle tanks are in service, as major numbers of those vehicles are taken over from the adversary. More than 250 T-72 MBTs were also provided to Ukraine by the allies.
The support granted by the Polish and Czech nations is most valuable to us. Thanks to your main battle tanks, we are fighting our shared, long-term enemy. We are fighting for Ukraine, the Czech Republic, and Poland. We are fighting for every inch of our Slavic ground. We are grateful to the Poles and to the Czechs for your help and support provided to our military, and our citizens, who have found peace in your countries, not being scared by Russian bombs and missiles. We stand together. Your main battle tanks constitute help, coming from true brothers, social media post published by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine via facebook reads.
The vehicles received by Ukraine come in a mix of three T-72 types. This probably refers to T-72M, T-72M1, and T-72M1R. The latter have undergone a general overhaul and modification which originally was aimed to extend their lifecycles in the Polish military. The said MBTs were fitted with new thermal imaging systems for instance. Nonetheless, the protection levels remained unchanged - and these could have been enhanced by the addition of the ERAWA ERA package (the second generation, guaranteeing partial protection from tandem-warhead ATGMs). This technology was applied in the case of the PT-91 platform, 2 decades ago.
The Ukrainians decided to fill in these gaps by installing Kontakt-1 ERA on all MBTs. This also greatly enhanced the protection levels, when it comes to anti-tank grenade launchers, and legacy ATGMs, like Fagot and Konkurs - still broadly proliferated in Ukraine. Notably, the photos show that the Polish MBT showcased was unmodified - the T-72M1R has no IR illuminator, that the depicted vehicle has.
Notably, the explosives used to fill the ERA blocks came out of the Czech Republic. It was possible to create more ERA elements locally. Kontakt-1 placed on the MBTs transferred from Poland, Czech Republic, and reportedly - Slovakia. Kontakt-1 armour has been well known in Ukraine, it is used on T-72AW, T-72B, T-80BW, or T-64BW MBTs.