After weeks of delays, the German government announced Wednesday that it would provide Ukraine with tanks and approve requests from other Western countries to send even more.
- The reversal by Chancellor Olaf Scholz came one day after the US government changed course and agreed to send Ukraine M1 Abrams tanks. Scholz’s government will provide Ukraine with one company of Leopard 2 A6 tanks, or 14 vehicles.
- The details of the Biden administration’s plan to send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine are still unclear, but the administration is looking to send more than 30 tanks and will announce its plans as soon as today. The US is expected to coordinate with Germany on the shipments.
- The United Kingdom had already agreed to send Ukraine its Challenger 2 tanks before Scholz and President Joe Biden changed their minds. The German government has said the goal of the West is to provide Ukraine with two battalions of German-built Leopard 2s, about 80-110 tanks. Poland, Finland, the Netherlands, and Spain are considering sending Ukraine their Leopard 2s.
- The Polish government said Germany’s decision was “good news for Europe’s security.” Warsaw has been pressuring Berlin for weeks for permission to send its Leopard tanks to Ukraine. The transfer of any German-built tank to a non-NATO country cannot happen without German approval.
- A Kremlin spokesperson dismissed the expected tank deliveries as inconsequential, predicting the Western-supplied tanks would “burn just like all the others.”
- The decision to send tanks comes one day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky began an anti-corruption purge of his government. Several senior officials, including governors of provinces on the front line, lost their jobs in a major government shake-up.
- NBC News reported the German decision to send tanks may help heal a growing rift in the NATO alliance. The Baltic nations and Poland, which all border Russia, have been clamoring for weeks to send tanks against German opposition. Germany’s ruling Social Democratic Party has often been criticized for its close ties with the Kremlin.
- CNN observed that the decision to send tanks could have repercussions for Russia’s expected spring offensive. The Ukrainian military expects a Russian offensive could begin “any time between the end of January and March.”
- According to the New York Times, the Leopard 2 tank is considered “one of the world’s leading battle tanks” and would level up the Ukrainian tank regiments considerably – Ukraine is still using Soviet-era tanks. The Leopard 2 is used by 13 European countries and their militaries have approximately 2,000 tanks between them.
- The Wall Street Journal reported the US could end up donating as much as 50 Abrams M1 tanks, and the announcement could come Wednesday afternoon. The decision by the US and Germany to send tanks came after “days of intense diplomacy” and marks a new threshold of Western assistance in the war.
- Fox News noted it is unclear when the first Western-provided tanks will roll into Ukraine, although the German government said they would arrive “quickly.” Training Ukrainian crews to use the tanks could take months.
- The Telegraph wrote that now that Ukraine has the Western tanks they’ve been begging for, “the hard part” begins. “Tanks cannot take enemy positions and hold ground on their own, of course. For that, battlefield commanders need other parts of the military orchestra to all be in tune.”
© Dominic Moore, 2023