The US and Germany have agreed to send tanks to Ukraine to aid in the effort to break combat stalemates against Russia. Germany has committed to sending 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks which were contingent on the US committing to sending tanks to the region. Germany wanted firm assurances from the US before they prepared to antagonize Russia further. The US’ commitment at present is 31 Abrams tanks, combined with Germany’s contributions and other European powers, Western allies will be able to equip approximately two Ukrainian armored battalions. It is the first phase in a larger coordinated effort to bring heavy weapons from the US, Germany, France, the UK, Poland, the Netherlands and Sweden to the war-torn country as the conflicts enters its twelfth month.
It’s unclear at the moment when the first delivery of tanks is expected. It appears that the timetable is based on when Russian forces are planning for another strike, possibly a Spring offensive. What is clear though is that this move elevates the conflict to a new level of confrontation. Russia’s ambassador to Germany Sergey Necheyev characterized the move as “extremely dangerous”. German political leaders have been extremely hesitant about confronting Russia more directly given the complex economic and energy dependence that Germany currently has with Russia.
This will be the first time German tanks will be pitted against Russian tanks in Ukraine since the Second World War. It is a trenchant thought not lost on anyone involved, yet the German leaders see it as the right decision. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz hastened to assure the people of Germany that it would not lead the country down the wrong path.
“Trust me, trust the government,” he said. “By acting in an internationally coordinated manner, we will ensure that this support is possible without the risks to our country growing in the wrong direction.”
Deep down there seems to be an insecurity that Germany could be responsible for yet another World War and I do not believe that to be an unfounded concern. While Russia may well have started this war, western powers have been obligated to respond in kind as Russia has refused to back down. Yet at the end of the day is it really going to matter who started it? Bad actors in Germany’s political sphere will likely use whatever decision is made against them in future elections. The far-right Alternative for Germany Party has already called the decision “irresponsible and dangerous” and that it could risk Germany being “drawn directly into the conflict”, which certainly look like cudgels for their political agendas.
Russia’s invasion continues to threaten global stability and especially the lives of those living in Ukraine.
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