The US and Germany reportedly plan to send tanks to Ukraine in what Kyiv hopes will be a game-changer on the battlefield.
Germany will send Leopard 2 tanks and approve re-export of the same kind of tanks from partner countries, according to a statement issued on Wednesday.
“This decision follows our well-known line of supporting Ukraine to the best of our ability,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in Berlin. “We are acting in a closely coordinated and concerted manner internationally.”
Germany said it would initially provide fourteen Leopard 2 tanks from its military stocks, with the goal of establishing two battalions. It will also provide ammunition and logistics. The government said other European partners would likewise deliver tanks from their stocks. They had been awaiting approval from Germany as the manufacturing nation.
Training of Ukrainian troops in Germany will begin soon, according to the German government’s statement.
U.S. officials will soon announce their intention to send Abrams tanks to help the country fight off Russia’s invasion.
Ukraine celebrates decision
Ukrainian officials have celebrated what they deem to be a potential game-changer.
“A few hundred tanks for our tank crews—the best tank crews in the world,” Andriy Yermak, the head of President Volodymyr Zelensky‘s administration, wrote on Telegram. “This is what is going to become a real punching fist of democracy against the autocracy from the bog.”
Zelensky adopeted a more cautious approach in his evening address and said: “There is a lot of talk about tanks now, about the modern tanks we need and about how this deficit can be filled. Many efforts, words, and promises. But it is important to see reality; it is not five, or 10, or 15 tanks. The need is greater.”
Tanks from US, and Germany superior to Russian tanks
CNN has reported that the US decision to provide Abrams tanks to Ukraine is an abrupt about-face from its stated position, one that allows Germany to send its tanks and clear the way for the approval of other European countries to send in more of the German-made Leopard 2 tanks as well.
U.S. officials said publicly last week that it was not the right time to send the seventy-ton M1 Abrams tanks because they are costly and require a significant amount of training to operate, CNN says.
Western tanks, including the UK’s Challenger 2, Germany’s Leopard 2, and the US-made Abrams, are all seen as superior to their Soviet-era counterparts, such as the ubiquitous T-72, the BBC notes. They will provide Ukrainian crews with more protection, speed, and accuracy.
Nonetheless, Western modern main battle tanks are not a wonder weapon or game-changer on their own. It’s also what is being supplied alongside them, says the BBC.