Ukraine relies on powerful tanks, but few to turn the war around | The US and Germany began to provide heavy weapons but with caution

Ukraine relies on powerful tanks, but few to turn the war around |  The US and Germany began to provide heavy weapons but with caution

The United States and Germany took the step that was missing so that the war in Ukraine could change course. Both countries will deliver the German Leopard II tanks and the American M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine in a decision that responds to a long-standing demand by the kyiv authorities, but which the allies — divided on that option — had rejected.

This decision marks two trends. The first: by involving the United States in the supply of heavy weapons, Germany renounces leading the European axis in this war that began in February 2022. The second: German tanks could be decisive in the future, given their proven effectiveness . For Moscow this is a “mirage”. Political analysts also see in these decisions a step more political than practical. added to each other, the tanks that will arrive in Ukraine are far from the 300 necessary for kyiv to be able to arm itself with decisive material.

After multiple allied pressures and within his own country, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz authorized the delivery of the Leopard IIs of the German army and of the same tanks that the armies of the allied countries (Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Finland , Poland). Berlin agreed, for now, to deliver 14 tanks. Germany’s change is radical: Berlin, a year ago, had only promised to supply 5,000 helmets to Ukraine. He then agreed to award heavier material for a total of $3 billion. Olaf Scholz reversed his position after US President Joe Biden announced in a statement the supply of 31 Abrams tanks.

On January 15, Britain was the first Western country to agree to supply Ukraine with “heavy weapons”: 14 Challenger 2 tanks. According to Biden, the provision of German tanks to Ukraine does not represent “a threat of an offensive against Russia.” The claim is far from true. One of the reasons Ukraine’s allies never agreed to the provision of Leopard II and Abrams tanks was because, due to their range and effectiveness, it was feared that they would lead to a further escalation of the conflict. On more than one occasion, the German chancellor reiterated that it is about “avoiding a war between Russia and NATO.” However, the Western position of presenting itself as a non-belligerent “ally” loses substance every day.

Led by Washington, Ukraine’s backing countries have pledged $108 billion in military, financial or humanitarian aid. The US contributes 47.9 billion, Europe 29.7 billion and the rest 28 other countries. Once the strength of the tanks was known, kyiv spoke of “a historic day” and the General Secretary of the Atlantic Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, said that the decision of the German Executive “represents a change that could contribute to the victory of Ukraine”. The Abrams tanks will only arrive in Ukraine in September and the Leopard II this March. These decisions and their consequences are, for now, more rhetorical than real. Tanks are too few to decide the fate of a conflict of this nature. The political message is, however, very strong.

Moscow had already scoffed at the possibility of Ukraine having these weapons and spoke of a Western “illusion”. With the decision already known, Sergueï Netchaev, Russia’s ambassador in Berlin, said that this “increases the level of confrontation in the conflict.” For its part, the Kremlin, through its spokesman Dmitri Peskov, declared that “Western tanks will burn like the others.” Olaf Scholz managed to free himself from the mission that the US administration wanted to impose on him: to be the European leader of the war against Russia derived from the invasion of Ukraine. As there were German and North American tanks, Scholz included Washington in this new stage that was beginning, without assuming the role of head of the European allies. This proves, once again, that the European Union does not want to take a military step without being assisted by the US The so-called “Europe of defense” is a story for colloquiums and conferences. The German political scientist Markus Linden comments in this regard that “there is little doubt that the US would have wanted the Europeans to take care of their destiny. However, I believe that the German chancellor does not trust the European capacity to carry out the common defense issue”.

If Ukraine were to combine German, British, American and perhaps French Leclerc tanks in its forces, the maintenance and operation of each model differs. That is one of the reasons why the Ukrainian authorities opt for the German model, the most advanced and expanded among European armies with more than 2,400 units.

For most experts, These heavy weapons could give kyiv a considerable advantage in eastern regions, where Russia is gradually regaining control after heavy defeats. The International Institute for Strategic Studies considers that if “Ukraine received a few hundred tanks, the consequences on the battlefields would be significant.” Among the most valued attributes of the Leopard II are: a top speed of 70 km/h, range of 450 km, protection against mines and missiles, and can fight on the go. It is estimated that the Leopard II “is capable of breaking through enemy lines and gaining a lot of ground.” Its projectiles reach 5 km and when it is shot, it dilutes the energy towards the outside, protecting the crew. It takes between four and six weeks of training to handle it.

January has been the pivotal month in the West’s commitment to the war in Ukraine: strategic heavy weapons began to enter the scene. France changed the western position after French President Emmanuel Macron promised to send AMX-10 RC light tanks. Then Britain did with the Challenger 2 tanks, later Germany with the Marder combat vehicles, followed by the US with the Bradley armored vehicles and again Germany and the US with the Leopards and the M1 Abrams.

The engineer and expert in military weapons Marc Chassillan explained to the newspaper Le Monde the difference between these tanks and the Russian T 72: “the western ones were developed between the end of the 70s and the 90s in the Cold War with the aim of destroy russian tanks. These tanks go faster and shoot farther.” But these attributes lose strength compared to the few tanks delivered: The Ukraine needs 300 and the West offers 59. The weapons that arrived increased in power, but not in quantity. The West is immersed in the trap that it created. You cannot hand over too many weapons so as not to trigger an uncontrollable conflict. At the same time, the Europeans would run out of weapons to defend themselves. The US has not won either of its last two wars — Afghanistan and Iraq — while the West as a whole lost the war in Syria when Russia came out to support Bashar al-Assad with its air force.

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