Western Nations Pledge Tanks to Ukraine
On January 25, U.S. President Joe Biden announced that the United States would send 31 M1A2 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, although they would not be from America’s current stockpile, reports Politico. The war in Ukraine has brought armored combat back into focus in a way not seen since the Gulf War. For the first time in thirty years, tanks once again bear the brunt of large-scale offensives, as the Russian Army fields an army of tanks not seen since the last time Russia marched west in World War II. Ukraine, however, will now be bolstered by advanced tanks donated by the U.S. and Germany. This comes as a reversal of President Biden’s earlier statements, which indicated he was holding off on sending tanks as he was worried about escalation, as reports the Associated Press. The M1A2 tank is the most advanced tank that the US currently operates and is also operated by the Australian, Polish, and Saudi Armed Forces.
Within the same two days as President Biden’s announcement, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that his government will send 13 Leopard 2A6 tanks and training crews to Ukraine as well, and also allow other European countries to send their Leopard stockpiles, reports NPR. Sweden and Poland have both expressed interest in sending their Leopard tanks through this initiative as well. These two deliveries come around a month after the United Kingdom decided to send 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, contributing to what outgoing Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov has repeatedly referred to as a “tank coalition,” reports The Hill.
Tanks have played an important part in the Ukrainian conflict and continue to show their dominance on the battlefield. Russia has recently made the move to introduce their supposed cutting-edge T-14 Armata tank onto the battlefield, although intelligence reports have shown that the T-14s have been plagued with problems ever since they were introduced in 2015, reports Newsweek. The slew of tanks going to the frontlines also raises the question of what else will be sent– will European countries soon start sending fighter jets as well? According to The Guardian, the U.S. and UK have both ruled out sending their own jets for fear of provoking escalatory moves from Putin. However, three months ago, these same nations also ruled out sending their own tanks, so many analysts have pointed out that this position may evolve over time. Many Eastern European countries are also looking to offload their antiquated Soviet jets, and would like to replace them with western-made equipment. If smaller nations are given the go-ahead by NATO or the EU then Ukraine might have a load of jets arriving in Kyiv in the near future.
The role of military aid to Ukraine cannot be understated. It has fundamentally kept Ukraine from falling to Russia and had allowed the country to keep fighting. The sheer amount of economic and military aid to Ukraine has kept a war-torn nation alive and ready to fight, and the shipment of nearly sixty tanks over the next few months will provide yet another edge in the war as Russia prepares for another offensive on the first anniversary of the beginning of the war, reports BBC News. Support from western allies and the continued lend-lease programs enacted by them will keep making a difference in Ukraine, and the impact of tanks as a representation of this aid is a perfect example. In four months, when there will likely be a summer offensive in Ukraine, one only needs to look at the number of tanks used in battle to see the true impact of this growing tank coalition and how it is altering the face of the war.
Image courtesy of The Finnish Defend Forces, Wikimedia Commons