This week saw a boost to the Western alliance’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as several European nations finally heeded President Volodymyr Zelensky’s repeated requests for modern battle tanks to be sent to Kiev.

The military of Ukraine has promised to employ tanks from France, Poland, and the United Kingdom in its defense against Russia. Finland is thinking about doing the same.

As part of measures to “intensify” support for Ukraine, Britain will to supply 12 Challenger 2 tanks as well as additional artillery systems, according to Downing Street. Following their phone conversation on Saturday, Zelensky congratulated Prime Minister Rishi Sunak “for the actions that will not only reinforce us on the battlefield, but also convey the proper signal to other allies.”

Andrzej Duda, the president of Poland, expressed his hope that tanks from a variety of Western partners would “soon sail through various routes to Ukraine and would be able to strengthen the defense of Ukraine” alongside Zelensky on Wednesday in the Ukrainian city of Lviv.

Germany has been under increasing criticism after announcing last week that it would send infantry fighting vehicles to Kyiv but has not yet committed to sending tanks. Olaf Scholz, the chancellor, has stressed that any such strategy would require complete coordination with the entire Western alliance, including the US.

Western officials told CNN that the decision by certain nations to send more tanks but not others was a result of a larger assessment of the situation in Ukraine. In recent weeks, NATO members have engaged in extensive discussion over which nations are best suited to offer particular sorts of support, be it financial or military in nature.

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Leopard 2 tanks are present in 13 European nations.
Leopard 2 tanks are present in 13 European nations.
picture-alliance/dpa/AP Armin Weigel
In the next weeks, as the war enters a new phase, more nations may raise their military support, and as the anniversary of the invasion draws near, a new Russian onslaught might be just around the corner, according to a senior Western diplomat.

Germany, though, is thought to be essential. According to the think tank European Council on Foreign Relations, thirteen European nations, including Poland and Finland, have modern German Leopard 2 tanks. These tanks were first launched in 1979 and have subsequently undergone numerous upgrades.

The German government would generally need to approve any re-export of the tank by these countries, but Berlin has indicated that it will not obstruct their transfer to Kyiv.

Robert Habeck, the vice chancellor, declared on Thursday that Berlin will not obstruct foreign nations from reexporting Leopard tanks.

Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck stated on the sidelines of a Greens party conference in Berlin on Thursday that Germany shouldn’t obstruct other nations from supporting Ukraine, regardless of the decisions Germany makes.

According to deputy government spokesperson Christiane Hoffmann on Friday, neither Poland nor Finland had made a formal request.

“There isn’t a question that we couldn’t answer in the negative. Hoffmann told reporters, “But we’re saying right now that we’re in ongoing discussion about what is the proper thing to do at this moment and how we can best support Ukraine.

Olaf Scholz, the chancellor of Germany, has so far resisted calls to send tanks to Ukraine.
Olaf Scholz, the chancellor of Germany, has so far resisted calls to send tanks to Ukraine.
Reuters/Michele Tantussi
The Economist reported in December that Ukraine’s top military commander, General Valery Zaluzhny, estimated that 300 tanks were required to repel the Russians. There are reportedly about 2,000 Leopard tanks scattered throughout Europe, according to the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, asserted his confidence in the delivery of the promised tanks from the European partners on Thursday, saying they would arrive “very, very fast” and that the Ukrainian Armed Forces would “master” their use “in a matter of weeks.”

It is not an uncontested decision on the part of NATO countries to send the tanks to Ukraine. German diplomats are privately expressing their worry that it signals an intensification of the West’s response to Russia and would be perceived as a provocation in Moscow.

Other European officials contend that the West has already transferred a large number of other cutting-edge weaponry that have been used to murder Russians and that it has also generously given Ukraine intelligence. Notably, the US has given Ukraine access to its long-range, cutting-edge HIMARS rocket launchers, which have enabled Ukraine to change the course of the war in recent months. Considering this, the officials argue that sending more tanks is not a serious escalation, despite what Moscow may claim.

Although European partners continue to support Ukraine largely in unison, diplomats who spoke to CNN said there is dispute about whether providing tanks and other weapons is the quickest and most efficient approach to end the crisis.

The UK, France, and Poland have each contributed $7.5 billion, $1.5 billion, and $3 billion to Ukraine, respectively, according to the Kiel Institute’s tracker of international aid to the country. With Poland earlier supplying over 200 Soviet-style tanks, this money is a combination of military, financial, and humanitarian aid.

According to a recent Eurobarometer survey, 74% of Europeans believe that European countries should continue to support Ukraine. This finding indicates that European residents’ support for doing so is still very strong. As a result, Germany will likely discover that it has the necessary political cover to act if it decides to follow France, the UK, and Poland.

In the upcoming days, it is anticipated that the UK and France would keep applying pressure to Germany to join their campaign. If they are successful, the three major European nations would be marching in unison as the war approaches its one-year mark.

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