Saturday, April 1, 2023

Tanks for Ukraine: is Germany really the brake pad?


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As with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the assessment of the situation in Ukraine in the USA is also linked to the question of possible future deliveries of western-style battle tanks. After all, the US government has not yet delivered any “main battle tanks” for the defensive war against Russia. In the United States, the debate isn’t about Leopard 2 tanks, it’s about Abrams. On this side of the Atlantic, however, the government has so far only come under pressure from the opposition. At least they are demanding more and more loudly that the Biden administration must finally take the next step.

“Ukraine needs short-range missiles, tanks and aircraft. And a lot more artillery,” said Republican MP Adam Kinzinger. “The sooner this happens, the sooner the war will end.” Leading Republican Senator on the State Committee, Jim Risch, tweeted, “I will continue to do everything in my power to provide Ukraine with the necessary weapons, including main battle tanks.” Republican Senate opposition leader Mitch McConnell made a similar argument: “The Ukrainians need more weapons than we’re giving them right now. They need new capabilities like long-range ATACMS missiles, large drones and tanks.”

Big concerns remain

Despite the current successes, the White House apparently does not yet believe that the situation has changed so significantly that a decisive change in strategy could already be announced. Although Ukraine is demanding them, the United States has so far refused to supply long-range missile systems or its own Abrams tanks.

There are many reasons circulating in Washington for this attitude:

  • The USA could not currently guarantee, adequately Spare parts for the maintenance of battle tanks to provide, according to Pentagon circles. The military in the Ministry of Defense in particular should point out to the White House that tank deliveries only make sense if there is an intact supply chain. The argument seems plausible: the inadequate military “supply chains” in the US Army have repeatedly been a problem in recent years. However: If the Americans, who after all have the largest military budget in the world, really wanted to, they could provide sufficient supplies and maintenance.
  • One argument that has been put forward over and over again from the start is the lack of training of the Ukrainian forces on Western main battle tanks. It is correct: Unlike tanks from Soviet stocks, Ukrainian troops would have to be trained separately on Abrams tanks. But it is also a fact that the war has now lasted more than half a year. The training could have started already.
  • The strategic considerations in the White House always point to one thing: Man will Don’t give Putin any excuse to escalate further. In any case, delivering western-style tanks for the first time would represent a new level of support for Ukraine. Longer ranges and stronger attack capabilities, including on Russian territory, could deter the Biden government from supplying its own tanks. Who knows what Ukraine will end up doing with such weapons? On the other hand: Since the beginning of the war, the US government has repeatedly adjusted its arms deliveries to the dynamic combat situation. It’s quite possible that the White House is about to make another adjustment.

Without Abrams tanks, no Leopard 2

The German attitude also depends on the decisions in the USA regarding possible tank deliveries. According to information from t-online, German government circles say: “As long as the Americans don’t deliver an Abrams, Germany won’t deliver a Leopard 2 to the Ukraine.” Not least for historical reasons, the German government will never take the lead alone.

It is the well-known voting argument: no German solo efforts. A few days ago, however, the US government had withdrawn the basis for this kind of justification for the German point of view through its ambassador in Berlin, Amy Gutmann. “Ultimately, the decision about the type of aid lies with each country,” tweeted the US embassy after an interview Gutmann had previously given to “ZDF”.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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