NATO countries gather a coalition to supply tanks to Ukraine

Britain and Poland this week became the latest Western countries to announce the provision of tanks to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Earlier in January, deliveries were reported by the United States and France. NATO allies are urging Germany to join a coalition that would provide Ukraine with heavy weapons, as 13 European countries have approximately 2,000 German Leopard tanks. These machines could become the basis of tank formations formed from Western equipment.

Importantly, this would also make it possible to provide the Armed Forces of Ukraine with ammunition and spare parts for tanks.

Poland is in “very specific” talks on creating a coalition to provide Ukraine with heavy weapons, President Andrzej Duda said during a visit to Lviv on Wednesday. He added that “as part of the creation of an international coalition,” Poland will send Ukraine a “company” of German Leopard 2 tanks (usually includes 14 vehicles). This step, however, provides for “a whole range of formal requirements and approvals”, since it is necessary to obtain permission from the country of origin – Germany.

Its chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has so far refused to directly provide Ukraine with offensive weapons such as tanks, fearing that this could be perceived in the Kremlin as an escalation of the conflict and drawing NATO into the war. However, such a step is supported by his partners in the government: the Minister of Economy and Vice-Chancellor, co-chairman of the Green Party, Robert Habek, did not rule out the supply of Leopards.

According to Scholz, Germany will not act alone, so the allies are trying to form a coalition that would supply tanks and ammunition for them, writes the Financial Times. France is considering participating, a government official told the newspaper.

A week ago, Paris said it would supply Ukraine with AMX-10 RC vehicles, which are classified as either heavy armored vehicles or light wheeled tanks. Equipped with a 105 mm cannon, they are designed to deal with enemy armored vehicles (they are also called “tank killers”).

For his part, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday asked Defense Secretary Ben Wallace to “work with partners” in the coming weeks to “move further and faster our support for Ukraine, including the provision of tanks.” London is going to give Kyiv the Challenger 2 main battle tank.

This will be the first modern tank that a NATO country will provide to Ukraine. Challenger 2 – the main tank in service with the British army, was used in Kosovo and Iraq, its production continued until 2009. Meanwhile, the production of the French AMX-10 RC was discontinued in 1994.

Britain and France have not yet announced how many tanks they will provide. Most military experts believe that German Leopards are best suited to support the Ukrainian army, writes FT. There are many of them in Europe, production is located near the theater of operations, there is the possibility of a stable supply of ammunition.

Basically, the Ukrainian army now uses T-72 tanks, which were in service with it and were received from Poland and the Czech Republic at the initial stage of the war. In addition, hundreds of tanks were “provided” to her by the Russian armed forces. According to the latest data from Oryx experts, which takes into account the documented losses of both armies, Ukraine captured 535 Russian tanks.

Although knocked out Russian tanks (953 destroyed and 73 damaged) are used as a source of spare parts, the problem of providing ammunition remains. Meanwhile, one of the largest European manufacturers, the German Rheinmetall, has already doubled its annual production of tank shells to 140,000. In total, the company has increased its capacity, which allows it to increase production from 1.2 million medium-caliber shells to 2.2 million per year.

Some analysts believe that the decision made last week by Germany and the United States to provide Ukraine with infantry fighting vehicles (Marder and Bradley, respectively) can already be considered a transition to the supply of offensive weapons. Both vehicles are capable of withstanding Russian infantry fighting vehicles and tanks. Marder, which has a high speed of movement over rough terrain, can operate as part of a strike group along with Leopard tanks.

Bundestag Defense Committee Chairman Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann supported the delivery of Marder to Ukraine and called on the government to reconsider its position on sending modern tanks.

Support for Ukraine needs to be stepped up, providing military technology “that will help win this war,” says a British government official (quoted by the FT):

Obviously, battle tanks could give the Ukrainians the opportunity to fundamentally change the balance of power.


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