German signals shift on supply of tanks and armored vehicles to Ukraine | Ukraine

Germany has hinted it may allow tanks or armored vehicles to be sent to Ukraine, a day after France said it would supply armored vehicles to Kyiv in an attempt to achieve a breakthrough in the 10-month-old war.

Berlin ministers and officials indicated that the decision to supply Marder infantry fighting vehicles or Leopard 2 tanks for the first time could be taken at the next meeting of the Security Council. Defense communications group of Ukraine “Ramstein” – A series of periodic talks between Ukraine and its allies – mid-January.

German position on the delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine It hasn’t been a “steady” day, Robert Habeck, Economics Minister and Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz, said on a visit to Norway’s capital Oslo.

“The allies expanded their positions on two points, namely the readiness of France and the United States to deliver lighter tanks,” Habeck said. “And this will certainly also affect the German position.”

France said on Wednesday it was increasing its military assistance to Kyiv by providing an unspecified number of AMX-10 RC light armored vehicles capable – experts said – of scouting roles and support for main battle tanks.

A few hours later, Joe Biden, the US president, said that US-made Bradley combat vehicles could also be sent to Ukraine. Administration officials told Reuters on Thursday that the US security package to be unveiled on Friday will include about 50 vehicles for Ukraine.

Germany’s foreign minister, Annalina Berbock, also noted that her country’s approach is evolving. “I have indicated over and over again that we are working with our partners to find out what kind of military support Ukraine requires,” she said after meeting her British counterpart, James Cleverly. Astute himself said the tanks “may” be part of the next phase of arms transfers.

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Ukraine has repeatedly said it needs about 300 tanks and 600 to 700 infantry fighting vehicles from the West in order to give its army a chance to break through the increasingly fortified Russian positions along the front line.

However, the United States and Germany were wary of supplying NATO-class tanks to Ukraine, as they feared Russia would interpret them as escalatory. But as the fighting continued, the West gradually gave Kyiv more effective Western weapons in an effort to help it win the war.

On Wednesday night, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, said Paris’ decision “sends a clear signal to all our other partners: there is no logical reason why Ukraine has not yet been supplied with Western-type tanks.”

Ukrainian soldiers ride a tank in the Donetsk region. Ukraine has long had its eye on Western tanks to complement its reduced fleet of Soviet-designed T-64s and T-72s. Photo: Reuters

Zelensky also highlighted the upcoming meeting of defense ministers, and said, “Before the new ‘Ramstein’, this signal is very important.” The international meeting is being held under the chairmanship of the United States, where Western defense ministers discuss and coordinate future packages of military aid to Ukraine.

Ukraine has long been interested in Western tanks and armor to supplement its reduced fleet of Soviet-designed T-64 and T-72 tanks and BMP infantry fighting vehicles, after more than 10 months of fighting. Kyiv has received about 200 post-Soviet tanks from Eastern European countries since the start of the war, but available supplies are in Europe Now limited.

To replenish its stocks and build up a new offensive force, Ukraine has sought to acquire American-made M1A1 Abrams tanks, German-made Leopard 2 tanks, of which there are about 2,000 in service in 13 European countries, and Marder infantry fighting vehicles.

Regardless of which country owns cheetahs or marders, approval from Berlin is required to re-export them to Ukraine.

“Tanks can be crucial because there is no alternative if you want to attack enemy formations in defensive positions,” said Ben Barry, a former British Army tank commander and land warfare analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Russia has largely sought to dig in since it gave up its exposed position in Kherson on the western side of the Dnipro River in November, as it attempts to consolidate its occupation of a swath of territory roughly the size of Portugal in eastern and southern Ukraine.

A breach, if it ever occurs, will likely require the combined use of tanks, heavy armor, and infantry, replicating a standard offensive tactic dating back to World War II. “The effectiveness of the infantry is double, even with only three or four tanks helping,” Barry added.

The French six-wheeled AMX-10 RC was first deployed in the 1980s and has been used in multiple operations from Afghanistan to Mali. But Paris is in the process of phasing it out, making it a perfect gift for Ukraine.

An aide to French President Emmanuel Macron said it was “the first time that Ukrainian armed forces have been supplied with Western-designed tanks” but experts said the AMX-10 RC is too lightly armored to be considered a suitable tank. However, this letter could be a useful cover if Germany changed its position.

Additional reporting by Patrick Wintour

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