Well then: The West is supplying modern battle tanks, and Germany is also sending the Leopard 2 to the Ukraine. This will change the war. But how?
Suddenly everything happened very quickly and after much hesitation and negotiation, the decision was made: Germany is now sending modern Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine after all, and the Ukrainian defenders are also getting M1 Abrams from the USA. The main battle tank hurdle has fallen. Good news for Ukraine in the face of Russian invasion. Read more about it here.
Nevertheless, time is still pressing. Russia and Ukraine are currently preparing for spring offensives. With the delivery of modern combat and armored personnel carriers, the Western alliance has created the conditions for Ukraine to be able to hold its own militarily in the war of attrition against Russia. But that’s not all.
The German Leopard 2 decision sends a clear message to Russian President Vladimir Putin: The West is not backing down and is willing to support Ukraine in the longer term with the most modern weapons in its arsenal. Putin’s nightmare comes true.
Leopards and Abrams for Ukraine
The bomb burst on Tuesday evening. First, the “Spiegel” reported the tank delivery, then the report was also confirmed by coalition circles on t-online. The federal government is ready to hand over a company of Leopard 2 A6 tanks – i.e. 14 tanks – to the Ukrainian army. In addition, Germany gives the green light to all countries that also want to supply Leopard 2 tanks.
Shortly before, there were also reports from the USA that US President Joe Biden was now considering the delivery of M1 Abrams tanks. The Wall Street Journal reported that commitments for “a larger number” of M1 Abrams could come later this week. Biden promised Scholz in a phone call last week that he would have such a delivery checked, the paper reported, citing unnamed sources. The New York Times said the US would send about 30 tanks.
It was a battle tank “double boom,” as former Ukrainian ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk wrote on Twitter. The United States and Germany, together with the United Kingdom – which previously announced the transfer of Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine – have politically taken military support to Ukraine to a new level. But that alone will not be enough.
Russian T-72 tanks are inferior
Sure, the modern western-style main battle tanks have a lot ahead of their adversaries on the Russian side. Germany sends 14 models of the second most modern form to Ukraine, range and firepower are designed in such a way that the tanks are superior in a duel with the Russian T-72 and T-90. Putin’s army mostly uses T-72 tanks in Ukraine.
However, that alone is not enough, because the Russian tanks can currently make up for their technological disadvantages with their superior numbers. That is why military experts from Great Britain, Ukraine and the USA estimate that 250 to 300 main battle tanks would be necessary for a lasting effect on the battlefields and the front lines. Western support is still a long way from this: together with Poland, the USA, Great Britain and Germany have so far announced that they will hand over a maximum of 80 main battle tanks.
The advances from London, Washington and Berlin are therefore more to be understood as the spearhead of a new western battle tank alliance. Your advance is now putting pressure on other countries in Europe that still have many Leopard 2 tanks but have so far been reluctant to do so – Spain or Greece, for example.
Ukraine needs more tanks
Ukraine is also aware of the large lack of armor in its own arsenal and is promoting further deliveries. After the reports about the planned deliveries of the main battle tanks, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for a final decision. “Our allies know the number of tanks we need,” he said in his daily video address on Tuesday evening. “The discussions must end with decisions.” At the same time, the president made it clear that his country needed “more than 5, 10 or 15 tanks”.