the fight over tanks.

the fight over tanks.
in late january, germany finally agreed to let allies send leopard 2 tanks to ukraine, said they’d send 14 of their own. the tanks are supposed to be the best in the world. there are roughly 2k leopards in nato countries but germany must give the ok before they’re sent
  • for months, kyiv has been requesting germany-made tanks from its western allies
  • the german foreign minister said that if poland sent tanks w/o asking for permission from germany, the country wouldn’t “stand in the way” of poland’s plan
  • ukraine has argued that tanks would give their troops an edge in an emerging stage of the war
the u.s will also send their closest equivalent, the m1 abrams tanks. the biden admin previously resisted the idea, but changed course
  • the u.s. says they’re doing it to give germany political cover
  • they previously said the tanks were too expensive and complicated to be useful in combat
  • it’s unclear what triggered the biden admin’s shift in policy
what was germany’s problem? the wsj says the germans wanted the u.s. to send the m1 abrams first. germany was also worried about provoking russia, but nato allies say that’s dumb -- russia is already fully committed to war
  • the u.s. said the abrams tank is too difficult to maintain and operate
  • the u.s. thought german leopard tanks were much better suited for ukrainian forces
  • germany is concerned about nuclear war -- if russia is backed into a corner, they might use their big bombs
the wsj asks, does this even matter? the tanks are mostly symbolic, they’re not the tactical ace in the hole they’re made out to be. this is political posturing
  • war is about a balance of military systems
  • most leopards aren’t battle-ready, ukraine would probably only get a dozen or two tanks
  • ukrainian forces have other issues too -- how will they service the tanks if they get them? where will the fuel come from?
ukraine disagrees, per ap. they say their forces desperately need more tanks and leopards are the best choice
  • the uk provided several challenger tanks, but ukraine says it won’t be enough
  • the germans say they want to move “shoulder to shoulder” with the americans -- they need to sent their m1 abrams tanks before germany sends leopards
  • ukraine claims they need 300 tanks to expel russian forces
nyt also disagrees. the leopards are sophisticated and powerful weapons -- giving them to ukraine could challenge russia’s artilliery superiority
  • the leopard 2 is one of the best battle tanks in the world
  • a major selling point is their ease of use
  • also, there are a ton in europe already
the nyt also says germany’s reluctance is a byproduct of ww2. they’re overly cautious about military escalation (maybe for good reason), and the country is very divided about sending leopards
  • both finland and poland say they’ll send their leopards if germany authorizes it
  • some german politicians thinks it’s dumb to ask the u.s. to send m1 abrams alongside the leopards -- there are plenty of battle tanks in europe already, the abrams aren’t needed
bloomberg thought both the germans and americans should have sent their tanks immediately, the ukrainians need them. the “russia could get angry” argument is less compelling than the “ukrainians are fighting for their freedom” argument
  • one stipulation is logical tho -- the tanks shouldn’t be used to launch counteroffensives in russian territory
  • the west should give ukraine everything they got
  • several nato countries have already given ukraine a bunch of tank-adjacent vehicles
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