The Biden administration and Germany are expected to each announce they will send the tanks Kyiv has been seeking for months, and weeks of political disputes between Western allies over whether to deploy advanced tanks in Ukraine have erupted. , seems to be close to a solution.
The move by Germany to deploy Leopard 2 tanks and the United States to deploy M1 Abrams tanks has prompted several European countries to seek permission from Germany to deploy Leopard 2s from their own stocks, and Ukraine’s modern The potential number of tanks could increase significantly. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is expected to announce the government’s decision on Wednesday.
But when the diplomatic dispute ends, the hard part begins. It is to send heavy armored vehicles and other combat trucks onto the battlefield as Russia gears up for a new offensive expected in the spring or earlier.
U.S. officials say it could take years for Abrams tanks to reach Ukrainian battlefields. But Moscow has already stepped up its threats, with Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador in Washington, calling the move to send Abrams a “blatant provocation” and saying that “American tanks will definitely be destroyed.” I am warning you.
The process of delivering Western weapons and other military equipment to Ukraine is one of the war’s most closely guarded secrets. Concerns that Russia would target roads, railroads or staging points for supplies transported to the front lines in eastern and southern Ukraine have prompted officials and experts to evade attacks, usually using We need what we would describe as a stealthy convoy in darkness or in camouflage.
Russia is not known to have successfully attacked a large convoy of Western weapons exported to Ukraine. Experts say Ukraine is winning in a cat-and-mouse game in the process of transporting huge munitions and vehicles to conflict areas.
“No one publicly knows how this is happening,” said Heinrich Braus, a former NATO deputy secretary-general who is now at the German Council on Foreign Relations. “I’m not even sure the capital knows the details. But they’re in control of it.”
The risks and concerns of provoking Russia are so great that the Ukrainian military must retrieve weapons from depots within NATO territory instead of having Western forces and contractors deliver them to conflict areas. .
Nikolai Sokov, an expert at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation and a former Russian diplomat, said a Russian attack on an arms convoy “would not only delay future deliveries, but would at least take care of a significant portion of it.” said. of modern armor before reaching the front lines.
A Pentagon spokesman last week declined to discuss efforts to provide Ukraine with the more than $27 billion in arms and security assistance that the Biden administration had already pledged. The house describes a vital patchwork of delivery routes to deliver tanks, armored fighting vehicles and massive guns to the front lines, mostly from bases in Poland, Slovakia and Germany.
Most weapons are transported in railcars or flatbed trucks that are strong enough to carry huge weights. Given that long convoys of flatbed trucks are likely to attract Russian attention, rail is generally the fastest and safest way to move armor, experts say. Experts say it takes too much time, fuel and spare parts to send tanks and other armored vehicles to the battlefield. They will also, in essence, be moving targets for Russian fighters.
General Robert B. Abrams, a former U.S. Army four-star general who retired in 2021, has decades of experience with a tank named after his father, which is difficult for the Ukrainian military. I resonated with the concerns of some DoD leaders who were thinking. To repair and maintain a fleet of gas-hungry tanks. And that’s after getting them there.
“How long will it take to get there, stockpile supplies, deliver vehicles, train crews, train mechanics, and gather everything we need?” General Abrams asked. In an interview he said: “I don’t know, but it’s not like 30 days. I can say that.”
But the impact Abrams and its 120mm gun had on inferior Russian tanks didn’t matter, he said.
“It shreds them,” General Abrams said. “It pierces anything.”
John Ismay contributed to the report.