Ukraine’s pleas for tanks from its Western allies finally seem to have been heard – Germany and the US are reportedly ready to deliver their heavy tanks to the besieged country.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has finally decided to send Leopard 2 battle tank To ukrainethis is done ReportedAnd allow other countries like Poland to send their German made artillery as well.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration is expected to approve sending M1 Abrams tanks to aid Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
It’s a sign that international reluctance to ship tanks onto the battlefield against the Russians has waned, despite internal fears of a broadening of the conflict as a result.
Here’s why the announcements matter — and why they’re likely to be coordinated.
Why are leopards key?
The German-made Leopard 2 is widely considered the best option to equip ukraine with a large western tank force and giving it an edge over potential invasions, especially when the weather improves in the spring.
The tank’s creator, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann of Germany, calls it “the world’s leading battle tank”. For nearly half a century it has been prized for its firepower, protection, speed and maneuverability.
One of the great attractions of tanks is their sheer numbers. More than 2,000 have been deployed in more than a dozen European countries and Canada. Krauss-Maffei Wegmann says more than 3,500 units have been supplied to 19 countries.
The fact that the tanks are so widespread should make it easier to set up Ukraine with the supply chain, maintenance, training and logistics needed for effective deployment.
Strategists argue that around 100 tanks would be needed to have a significant impact on a war with Russia. Ukraine has asked for 300.
Replacing Ukraine’s dwindling Soviet-era stockpiles with Western arsenals – better than the T-Model used by Russia, which cannot reverse at speed, for example – would potentially give Kyiv an edge.
The Leopard’s iconic status needs to be seen against proposals from other allies – the UK announced this month it would send Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine – which has not cooled calls for Germany to chip in.
So what’s the sticking point?
Several European countries have indicated that they want to send some of their leopards to Kyiv. But for this they need the approval of the German government.
Germany’s reluctance regarding the supply of tanks to Ukraine ultimately stemmed from an aversion to post-World War II military aggression. This is despite Kyiv being the third largest arms supplier and a member of NATO, which would draw it into a full-fledged direct conflict if one of the 30 members was attacked. But the sight of German tanks rolling east brings back uncomfortable memories of its Nazi past.
So both the decisions can be combined
One of the main reasons Berlin cites for its reluctance is that Russia could see the delivery of tank Similar to Germany’s rising tensions. But if even a nuclear power like the US sent tanks, Germany could argue that it was acting in lockstep with its ally, and the Kremlin would be less likely to retaliate.
The US’s warning over providing Ukraine with its own powerful M1 Abrams tanks is based on the extensive maintenance and logistics challenges posed by the high-tech vehicles. In reality, it may take months or years for the tanks to be delivered while the Leopards are on Ukraine’s doorstep and it will take at least three weeks of operational training for crews and support staff to reach basic proficiency. Instead, which represents a U-turn in its policy position, Washington is effectively providing diplomatic cover for Germany to make its own decision on Leopard.
To be clear, officials stress that details are still being worked out. Also, without the expected anti-aircraft and reconnaissance support, the tanks would be of little advantage to Kyiv. But the briefing suggests the West is on the cusp of a deal that could be key to breaking the impasse in the 11-month-old conflict for Ukraine.
(tags to translate) Ukraine