The agreement to send German heavy tanks to the Ukraine, much to the chagrin of Moscow, implies that Western countries took a symbolic step in support of Ukraine, You will benefit from weaponry that can help you break through the Russian lines.
(Keep reading: Leopard 2: this is the powerful German tank that Ukraine will receive for the war)
What can this shipment mean in the context of the Russian invasion, which is exactly eleven months old this week?
A new taboo is broken
Insistent pressure from Ukraine to receive the German Leopard main battle tanks worked and on Wednesday Germany relented and promised to send 14 tanks to Ukraine, also giving its permission so that European countries that have stocks can transfer them to the Ukrainian army.
(In context: Official: Germany confirms the shipment of ‘Leopard 2’ type tanks to Ukraine)
“From the delivery of 5,000 heavy (combat, NDLR) helmets to the shipment of the Leopard to Ukraine: in less than a year Germany undid seven decades of pacifist policy. It may have been reluctant, but it is a major turning point Bruno Lete of the Washington-based think tank German Marshall Fund commented on Twitter.
The United Kingdom has already offered a dozen Challenger 2 tanks and France and the United States have promised to deliver armored reconnaissance and infantry and are studying the possibility of delivering heavy tanks.
This united front to support Ukraine is a new grievance for the Russians, who since the beginning of the conflict have been betting on a depletion of support from Westerners.
(Also: Kremlin On Sending Tanks To kyiv: ‘It Is A Plan Doomed To Fail’)
With this help from another range delivered to Ukraine, Westerners again risk being accused of being “co-belligerent” by Russia.
But, in fact, since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, some taboos have already been broken. “Howitzers and multiple rocket launchers delivered in 2022 are equally or more serious equipment than main battle tanks, since the artillery is more powerful,” said military analyst Mykola Bielieskov.
The United States overcame his reluctance and ended up accepting delivery to Ukraine of its Patriot medium-range surface-to-air missile system, which is considered one of the best air defense devices in Western militaries.
(Keep reading: ‘France will support Colombia in the implementation of the National Development Plan’)
How will Moscow react?
The Russian ambassador to Germany, Sergei Nechaev, criticized the decision on Wednesday as “extremely dangerous” and said “it will take the conflict to a new level of confrontation.”
A European bloc source noted that the tanks are “not an escalation tool, given their probable use by the Ukrainians” only on their territory, not beyond.
(Furthermore: Ukraine: Zelensky Removes Top Officials Over Corruption Allegations)
In response, Moscow may be tempted to field its T-14 tank for the first time, a new generation of weaponry that has not seen combat use. But there are only about twenty cars made, said Andras Racz, of the German Council for International Relations.
The Russians know well that a dozen Western tanks are not going to change the course of the conflict.
Thus, “in the absence of a symmetrical military response, an intensification of the information offensive by Russia can be expected, which could be prompted to launch a second wave of mobilizations.”
But the expert pointed out that “the Russians know very well that a dozen Western tanks are not going to change the course of the conflict. I do not expect an immediate escalation on the part of Moscow.”
(See also: Zelenski turns 45 with a government crisis and the gift of the ‘Leopard’)
On the other hand, the head of the German government, Olaf Scholz, stated on Wednesday that an escalation with Russia in the Ukraine conflict must be avoided, after authorizing the shipment of Leopard tanks to kyiv.
“In everything we do, we must always make it clear that we are doing what is necessary and possible to support Ukraine. At the same time, we must prevent the conflict from escalating into a war between Russia and Nato,” Scholz said in a speech to the lower house of the German Parliament.
An asset to kyiv
Ukraine has been asking since December for the delivery of some 300 Western tanks to launch counteroffensives, after months of relative stability on the front and fearing that Russia will launch a vast offensive in Donbas in the east with the arrival of spring.
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Cars and armored vehicles can allow the Ukrainian forces gain dynamism and give hope in breaking through the Russian defense lines with the support of artillery, which would make it possible to get out of the trench warfare that prevails in the east of the country.
“Tanks have been an integral part of joint warfare since World War II. No defensive or offensive operation is possible without an arsenal of assault tanks,” Ukrainian expert Mykola Bielieskov said.
The analyst indicated that these tanks are not a miracle solution. “Only if used in concert with mechanized infantry, the use of artillery, air defense and missiles, can tanks bring results,” he warned.
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