Allies do not want to deliver tanks to Ukraine

Posted January 19, 2023, 5:05 pm

To tank or not to tank, that is the question.

Speculation was rife in Washington, Kyiv, London, Paris and Berlin ahead of a crucial meeting of defense ministers from 50 of Ukraine’s allies on Thursday at the US military base in Ramstein, Germany.

The most likely scenario was no longer the delivery of the French AMX10 RC at the beginning of the month or many more powerful battle tanks than the one promised by the American Bradley. In fact, there is nothing to suggest a resolution of the imbroglio surrounding the German Leopard II tanks this Thursday: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is not ready to allow them to be delivered to Kiev because he does not want to strip his army (with 328 units) and above all his country’s 60, which can carry fortified positions to be at the forefront of supplying Western tanks. Weapons of no common size with those delivered by the Allies so far.

Definitely Leopard IIs

Leopard IIs are relatively important in the arsenal that can be trusted to Kiev due to their power, but also their number (about 2,000 copies among the allies) and NATO-compatible ammunition, unlike British tanks.

Chancellor Scholz, anxious not to provoke Moscow too much, may not even give the green light to re-export Leopard IIs to Kiev by Spanish, Polish, Danish or Finnish customers. Eric AndrĂ© Martin of the French Institute of International Relations warns: “Whatever the country of origin, a Leopard on the battlefield will be recognized by the Russians as a German tank and therefore make Germany an enemy country.” “Sometimes there are times when you shouldn’t hesitate or compare yourself,” was the warning, which angered Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Thursday. Chancellor Scholz hides behind the need to “play as a team” and lets it be understood that the US will deliver Leopard IIs if it donates its Abrams M1 tanks. This is not part of Washington’s plans.

US Deputy Defense Secretary Colin Kahl stressed on Wednesday that deploying Abrams tanks would be a major challenge in terms of logistics, maintenance and crew training, as it “requires very sophisticated equipment and a lot of fuel” (1,000 liters per day). Moreover, it would be a disaster if only one of these tanks, rich in technological secrets, were captured by Moscow.

Hinting that it is ready to go into effect by handing over 14 Leopards to Kiev without the chancellor’s green light, Poland is asking the Allies to send a combined contingent of a hundred battle tanks, including 14 tanks. British Challenger promised, for the moment only registered. London will also supply 600 Brimstone air-to-surface missiles and plans to deliver some of its giant Apache A64 attack helicopters.

Paris has not indicated at this stage that it is ready to deliver Leclerc tanks, whose current fleet does not exceed one hundred copies. Sweden, for its part, announced that it would supply 50 CV90 armored vehicles within two months. Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper believed on Thursday that German industry could deliver a hundred Leopard A4s, old designs, refurbished or even Leopard IIs to Kiev “this year”. According to a reliable source, the firms KMW and RheinMĂ©tall have identified 120 Leopard II tanks outside Germany that can be returned to combat condition after six months.

Hover over the bombs in the menu

According to Politico, the $2.5 billion U.S. aid plan, due to be finalized on Friday, will instead include 100 Stryker assault tanks. Strikers can carry commandos and fire anti-tank guided missiles.

Above all, several sources report that Washington will deliver GLSDB missiles (ground-launched small-diameter bombs). These are inexpensive missiles ($40,000 each) that are fired with a bell and then deploy small fins to guide them to a target 150 km away with an accuracy of less than a meter. Delivered last spring, it almost doubled the range of HIMARS, which made a decisive contribution to Ukraine’s success.

Crimea is obvious

The GLSDBs will allow it to destroy bases, ammunition depots and troop concentrations across all Ukrainian territory under Moscow’s control, without allowing it to strike too deep into Russian territory, which the Kremlin said Thursday would be a “dangerous escalation.” In Crimea. Unlike the heavy tanks required for assaults on fortified positions, these GLSDBs would devastate the rear of the Russian front and therefore prevent it from launching an offensive, even after providing sufficient armor within a few months to prepare the ground for an attack on Ukraine . .

By the way, the fact that the GLSDB then put the entire territory of Crimea in the firing zone is an indicator of an important evolution in the doctrines of the allies. Although many in the West thought that the seizure of this territory, annexed by Moscow in 2014, would cross a red line for the Kremlin, the US State Department stressed on Wednesday that Crimea belongs to Ukraine. On the same day, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced that he is still considered an ally of the Kremlin.

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