Ukraine’s war against Russia has been strengthened by the announcement of United States and Germany supplying Ukraine with dozens of battle tanks. Russia has condemned the moves as a “extremely dangerous” step.
According to news reports, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has agreed to give Ukraine Leopard 2 battle tanks. This comes after weeks of growing pressure on Berlin to give Kyiv the heavier weapons it says it needs to push back Russian forces that have invaded. Hours after Germany’s announcement, US officials have confirmed that the US would send dozens of M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine’s front lines.
Ukraine’s persuasion gets fulfilled
Ukraine has been looking for hundreds of new tanks to provide its troops the firepower to breach Russian defenses and retake occupied areas in the south and east. They had been rejected for months. Both the United States and Germany committed to dispatch these tanks on Wednesday. According to many experts, these two nations possess the best tanks in the world. Ukraine and Russia have mostly relied on T-72 tanks from Soviet era. The declaration of tanks coincides with both Ukraine and Russia’s anticipated launches of new offensives in the conflict as well as the escalation of hostilities in Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, according to officials.
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President Volodymyr Zelenskiy lauded the commitments and encouraged allies to promptly supply substantial numbers of tanks. “The key now is speed and volumes. Speed in training our forces, speed in supplying tanks to Ukraine. The numbers in tank support,” Zelenskiy said. ” “We have to form such a ‘tank fist’, such a fist of freedom’,” he added.
Germany and USA announces to send their sophisticated weapons
President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he was giving 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. This was a change from the past, when the administration had refused Kyiv’s requests for these highly advanced but hard to maintain vehicles.
The US-manufactured military vehicle is one of the most advanced combat tanks in the world and its operation requires substantial training. The $400 million (£323 million) American package also includes eight recovery trucks that can tow the tanks if they get stranded.
But since the tanks will be ordered from private contractors rather than being supplied from a ready supply, it will probably be many months before they arrive on the battlefield, according to experts. Colin Kahl, the assistant secretary of defense for policy at the Pentagon, stated that “The Abrams tank is a very complicated piece of equipment. It’s expensive. It’s hard to train on. It has a jet engine. I just don’t think we’re there yet.”
After months of thought and several days of tough negotiations with NATO partners, Scholz announced in the German Bundestag on Wednesday that his government will send 14 Leopard tanks to Ukraine. Germany’s closest European and international allies were consulted extensively on this, according to a government statement.
Boris Pistorius, Germany’s minister of defense, estimated that it would take around three months for the Leopard tanks to enter service in Ukraine. According to the official announcement, “Ukrainian crews are to begin training in Germany as soon as possible.” The package will consist of logistics, ammunition, and system maintenance in addition to training.
Leopard 2 tanks, manufactured in Germany, will be supplied from existing stock and delivered in two to three months. They’re commonly regarded as among the best fighting vehicles out there. A spokesman for the German Ministry of Defense previously told CNN that the German army possesses 320 Leopard 2 tanks but does not disclose how many would be battle ready.
The chief of staff for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy expressed delight at the news that Germany will ship his country Leopard 2 combat tanks and emphasized the urgent need for “a lot” of them. The introduction of Western tanks into the battle could also alter its trajectory.
More tanks to be sent to support Ukraine
As reported by CNN affiliate RTL News on Wednesday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said his country was “seriously considering” buying the 18 Leopard 2 tanks it now leases from Germany and deploying them to Ukraine. None of these tanks are owned by the Netherlands.
According to the Spanish news agency EFE, Spain has shown willingness to send tanks in collaboration with allies, and Norway is allegedly considering making a commitment. “Germany will give the partner countries that want to quickly deliver Leopard 2 tanks from their stocks to Ukraine the corresponding authorizations to transfer them,” Scholz’s government stated on Wednesday.
Modern tanks other than Leopards and Abrams are en route to Ukraine. This year, the UK committed 12 Challenger-2 tanks.
NATO backs up Ukraine and supporting countries
Allies in NATO-backed Germany’s move and have consistently pushed back against Russia’s pretext for war. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Wednesday via Twitter, “The right decision by NATO Allies and friends to send main battle tanks to Ukraine. Alongside Challenger 2s, they will strengthen Ukraine’s defensive firepower.” “Together, we are accelerating our efforts to ensure Ukraine wins this war and secures a lasting peace,” he added.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told CNN on Wednesday, “If we want Ukraine to be able to retake territory, we need to give them more armor, more heavy and modern weapons.” “We need that to assure that President Putin doesn’t win this war. Ukraine has the right to self-defense. We have the responsibility to help people exercise that right,” he added.
Is the support a game-changer for Ukraine?
Tanks are a potent illustration of how Russia has outgunned Ukraine in this battle on practically every front. Russia possesses more tanks. The Ukrainian military has been forced to rely on Soviet-era tanks that are now well past their useful life. It’s now widely expected that Ukraine will launch offensives soon. Tanks become extremely important in this context, as the advancement of an army on the ground requires heavy use of these machines.
According to Ed Arnold of the Royal United Services Institute, Ukraine’s military can be “transformed” by the acquisition of these battle tanks. The US’s M1 Abrams, Germany’s Leopard 2, and the UK’s Challenger 2 are the three types of western battle tanks that are now being sent to Ukraine. All three are much stronger than the Soviet-era T-72s that make up most of the Russian and Ukrainian tank forces. Similarly, sending French Leclerc tanks to Ukraine is not out of the picture.
All of these western tanks are more agile, have more destructive firepower, and superior armor than their Russian counterparts. Additionally, this makes them heavier, giving the advantage to the lighter Russian tanks on swampy ground, of which there will be no shortage in Ukraine once the thaw begins. However, the control and navigation technologies of current Western tanks give them an edge in combined movements including artillery and infantry, including at night, that the Russians just cannot match.
With these advantages, Western tank forces have a better chance of penetrating Russian defenses and dictating the terms of the fight across large swaths of captured land. Tanks would be vital in protecting Ukrainian positions against enemy counterattacks. For Ukraine and its allies, the most appealing possibility is that, if the weapons are as effective as the hype suggests, Kyiv would be able to dictate ceasefire and peace conditions to Moscow.
Is Russia hinting of more bloodshed as response?
Russia objected strongly to initial suggestions that Germany and the United States might send tanks to Ukraine, same to how it reacted to the United Kingdom’s decision to send tanks earlier.
Kremlin officials have also tried to make the sending of tanks look like an act of aggression against Russia. This is part of their fabricated story that their so-called military operation is needed to protect Russia’s interests, not to take over Ukraine.
On Wednesday, Russian Ambassador to Germany, Sergei Nechaev issued a statement calling Berlin’s action “extremely dangerous” and said that it pushed the crisis to a “new level of confrontation.”
Ukrainian tank donations from the United States and Europe will cause “more suffering” and “bring more tension to the continent,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said CNN on Wednesday. Ukrainian Abrams tanks manufactured in the United States will “burn down just like all the others,” according to Peskov, and the expense will fall on European taxpayers.
“Ukraine- Russia” war or “Western-Russia war”?
The reason why the news of tank donation is crucial is that it is now clearer than ever, the west is at war with Russia over Ukraine’s independence. But that doesn’t mean the West is actively seeking this war.
Ukraine and its military allies’ strategies and objectives do not quite sync, as seen by the deployment of battle tanks. This has been true since the beginning of the war, when western countries were worried about the possibility of a nuclear war and fought against Kiev’s calls for a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
With the West’s hardening stance and the consensus of Ukraine’s supporters, a key moment in the war is already here. Tanks being sent in is a clear indicator that the focus has shifted to a full-on offensive to secure a victory for the Ukrainians. However, the uncertainty over the tank deployment’s logistics and number of tanks is not only due to the requirement for secrecy. Furthermore, it represents enduring political ambivalences.
The post-Covid global economy is already suffering with the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia. With added arms and tanks, Ukraine seems to be gearing up for a deadly fight backed by westerns. However, Putin does not seem a president who is going to sit back and wait for the fight. This means, a prolonged war which would result more causalities, more blood and more corpses.