Ukraine update: The floodgates are already open, Wednesday could bring the flood


Back in April, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had a succinct proposal for the leaders of NATO: Send him 1% of their available tanks. Just 1%. And Ukraine would defeat the Russian military. Western leaders listened sympathetically, but agreed to send no tanks. 

April was a military age ago. Maybe two. The number of ridiculous lines that Western leaders have drawn, then been forced to erase, is hard to even count at this point. Still … they keep drawing lines.

Right now, defense ministers from nearly 50 nations are meeting at Rammstein Air Base in Germany. The primary topic of this meeting is, of course, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The primary result is expected to be the announcement of additional military hardware that Ukrainian troops can use to halt Russian attacks and push Russian forces back to their own borders.

Already in the last week:

  • France announced that it was sending the AMX-10rc armored fighting vehicle to Ukraine. Even as experts rushed to explain why this vehicle was not actually a tank (wheels, people, look at those wheels!), there’s no doubt that the AMX-10 announcement helped to crack open the floodgates and increase the pressure to send more potent vehicles to Ukraine. 
  • The U.S. announced a new $3 billion assistance package that, for the first time, includes Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles. This is far from the first time that the U.S. has sent armored vehicles to Ukraine, but those past vehicles have been more about transport and support rather than firepower. The Bradley is most definitely a step up and the first time the U.S. is sending a vehicle to Ukraine that the U.S. military itself describes as “a tank killer.” Along with the Bradleys, the U.S. is sending the M109 “Paladin” howitzer, more armored transport, and a genuinely massive amount of ammunition.
  • The U.K. announced that it is sending modern Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks to Ukraine, shattering that self-erected Western taboo against sending full-blown tanks to Ukraine. Those 16 Challenger tanks are far from the only thing the Brits are sending. Those tanks are part of what has now been revealed as a large package including hundreds of other armored vehicles and self-propelled artillery. 
  • Canada announced that it would send 200 more of the Senator armored vehicles. This isn’t the first time these vehicles have been sent, but they’ve developed a reputation as a reliable and speedy mount. They’re reportedly the favorite ride for Ukraine’s “Kraken” regiment.
  • The Netherlands has promised to provide Ukraine with another Patriot missile battery, following a U.S. agreement to deliver a Patriot system in late December that came after another round of Russian missile strikes on Ukrainian cities.

That’s the last week. So far.

Because what’s expected to come out of the meetings today are even more announcements, announcements that are likely to be headed up by Leopard 1 and Leopard 2 tanks manufactured in Germany. 

The pressure for Germany to send these tanks, and to allow nations that purchased Leopard tanks to transfer them to Ukraine, has been growing tremendously, and each new announcement—AMX-10, Bradley, Challenger 2—has been another brick landing on the scale of public opinion, both in Germany and across Europe. Politicians in other European nations are speaking directly to German officials, urging them to follow through on the popular campaign to “free the Leopards.” 

There has also been talk of the U.S. sending the M1A2 Abrams tank to Ukraine. This could happen. However, at the moment the U.S. seems to be quietly joining in with the pressure to get Germany to punt those Leopards. After all, Poland already has the tank, knows how to operate the tank, knows how to repair the tank, has the parts and ammunition for the tank, and it’s right next door to Ukraine. Poland wants to send its Leopards rolling in. All it needs is permission. Denmark is also ready to send its Leopards, even if they have to take a longer route. Finland is in. (Whether Finnish Leopard 2s are invisible isn’t known, but it has over 200 Leopard 2 tanks.)

The numbers being offered up right now aren’t huge, but they are significant. As things stand, Ukraine could end up with a company of Challenger 2 tanks and possibly enough Leopard 2 tanks to shape a whole battalion. Forming those tanks as a unit could make them a potent spearhead for the next Ukrainian counteroffensive, or they could be split into multiple companies to provide a hard core of protection at several points on the front. Whatever logistics allows.

Even right now, as things stand with the AMX-10rc, Bradley, and Challenger announcements, the army that Ukraine fields in the spring is going to be a different beast than what has operated against Russian forces so far. That current Ukrainian military is in most ways driving hardware that mirrors the Russian forces attacking them. The Russians are absolutely familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of everything they see in their scope.

Somewhere around March, a Russian tanker is going to look out and see alien forms approaching. That engagement is going to be world-defining. No exaggeration.

But first, Ukraine needs more tanks. Stand by for announcements.

Earlier today in Ukraine, a helicopter carrying a number of Ukrainian officials crashed just outside of Kyiv. Among a reported 14 dead are Minister of Internal Affairs Denys Monastyrsky. Family members of some officials were also reportedly on board and there is at least one child among the reported dead.

At the moment, this tragedy appears to be the result of accident or mechanical failure rather than enemy fire. Investigation is continuing. Monastyrsky is the highest-ranking member of the Ukrainian government to lose his life since the Russian invasion began.

The crash occurred near a kindergarten just as parents were bringing their children in to begin their day, adding a new trauma for kids (and parents) who must already being each school day wondering what will happen next. 


The original post can be found on Reason


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