Western capitals are at odds over sending modern heavy tanks to Ukraine, an item that until recently was considered a taboo for Kyiv’s allies.
Such tanks are considered vital to Ukraine’s efforts to retake territory from Russia, which has mobilized 150,000 troops for a new offensive. Moscow also put its defense industry in war mode for the reorganization and reorganization of its armed forces. Her next six months will be crucial for both parties.
Why are some countries ready to send modern tanks?
In short, to help Ukraine break its battlefield stalemate and reclaim territory from Russian occupying forces.
Western tanks, such as the U.S. M1 Abrams, the British Challenger 2, and the German Leopard 2, will give Ukrainian forces additional firepower to penetrate Russian defenses and gain military initiative ahead of Moscow. You can hold it. They will also be needed to defend the Ukrainian front against a possible Russian re-attack later this year.
Tanks are a key element in taking territory in so-called combined arms operations (mobile operations involving infantry and artillery). In addition, Western tanks have better armor, more accurate artillery, and better control and navigation systems than Russian tanks, giving Ukraine an edge. For example, it enables night operations.
Why is the Leopard 2 tank at the top of Kyiv’s wish list?
The German Leopard has similar features to the U.S.-made Abrams and British Challenger, but it also has some advantages, according to military experts. Lighter and easier to refuel than American tanks powered by turbine engines. It is considered more reliable than the Challenger.
But the decisive advantage is its availability. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, 13 European armies operate about 2,000 Leopard 2 tanks. It is unknown how many of these are combat-ready and how many need refurbishment. But it is a large pool available to Ukraine. We also have multiple sources of spare parts and maintenance professionals.
Does Ukraine already have tanks?
yes, a lot. It had its own fleet of Soviet-era tanks. He has captured more than 500 tanks from the Russian army since the full-scale invasion last February. Also supplied are his 240 T-72s from Poland and the Czech Republic. However, according to Gustav Gressel of the European Council for Foreign Relations, many tanks have been lost to enemy fire.
There are few sources of ammunition and spare parts available for Soviet-era tanks among the Ukrainian allies. So, like artillery, Ukraine will have to move to Western standard equipment. Otherwise, you risk running out of shells, replacement barrels and other spare parts.
This is another advantage of the Leopard 2. Having a potentially large inventory available would simplify the logistical support of the Ukrainian Armed Forces as repairs, spare parts and ammunition would be the same.
NATO allies have sent armored vehicles. Why hesitate tanks?
Several governments, including the US, Germany, the UK, France and Sweden, have committed to providing Ukraine with infantry fighting vehicles and other combat armored vehicles.
The United States has said it will donate at least 59 Bradleys and 90 Strykers, and Germany is providing Marders. attack ability is given.
France announced this month that it would send an unspecified number of AMX-10 “tank killer” armored vehicles, considered by some analysts to be light tanks.
But Western MBTs, with their chain tracks and sophisticated fire control systems and heavy artillery, provide a level of firepower Western allies were reluctant to give to Kyiv.
Britain tried to break that mental barrier last week when it announced it would be sending 14 Challenger tanks to Ukraine. Although the numbers are not militarily significant, the decision set a precedent and the UK hoped to encourage other countries to do the same soon.
However, the US says it will not send Abrams tanks because they are too difficult for Ukraine to maintain and there are plenty of other suitable options in the region, such as Leopards. The German government is reluctant to send the leopards, considering the risk that Russia will see the move as an escalation that could drag NATO into the conflict.
Why is Germany’s role so important?
Berlin’s approval is required if, under the terms of the export contract, other governments wish to donate Leopard tanks to Kyiv.
Germany has about 350 Leopard 2s of its own, but it’s unclear how many of them are fully operational. Germany’s new Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said on Friday that the army will begin a technical assessment of the combat readiness of its tank fleet and wait for a final decision on whether to deploy them.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz worries that Moscow will see any green light as a Berlin-led escalation, as the supply of Leopard tanks to Kyiv is effectively dependent on his support. So Scholz wants the US to agree to send the tanks before giving approval.