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Will the West deliver the tanks Ukraine is asking for? | Russo-Ukrainian War

The UK has pledged to deliver more than a dozen main battle tanks to Ukraine as it continues to battle invading Russian forces.

Moscow reacted furiously, saying any units the UK plans to send will “burn” and do nothing to change the outcome of its nearly year-long war.

The UK announcement is likely to increase pressure on Germany to allow the export of German-made tanks to Ukraine, as several European countries await approval from Berlin.

Here’s what you need to know:

Why is Ukraine asking for tanks?

The Ukrainian government has repeatedly requested additional weapons – including battle tanks – from its Western allies to bolster its efforts to push Russian forces out of the country.

Until now, Ukraine relied mainly on Soviet-era T-72 tank variants.

Main battle tanks designed by NATO countries – like those produced by the UK and Germany – would provide Kyiv forces with better protection and more accurate firepower.

However, they would not provide an instant boost in combat capability as Ukrainian forces would have to be trained to use any tanks supplied by Western allies – a process that is expected to take at least several weeks, if not longer.

Which countries have pledged tanks?

The UK confirmed on Monday that it will send 14 of its Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine along with other forward artillery support in the coming weeks.

Among Kyiv’s other allies, Poland said it wanted to send German-made Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine as part of an international coalition, but needed Berlin’s approval to do so. do so under the rules governing the re-export of German military equipment.

Finland also raised the possibility of supplying Ukraine with Leopard tanks, but said that depended on Germany’s advance.

Latvia, meanwhile, urged Kyiv’s allies to provide “all necessary support”.

“Ukraine should have everything [the] the necessary weapons… to resist this offensive. Therefore, all tanks should be donated to Ukraine when possible,” Latvian President Egils Levits told Al Jazeera on Monday.

INTERACTIVE_UKRAINE_CHALLENGER_2_TANKS_JAN15

Are there divisions in the West’s response?

So far, Germany has resisted supplying battle tanks to Ukraine, saying such units should only be supplied to Kyiv if there is an agreement between its main allies, in particular the states -United.

Re-exporting Leopards requires approval from the German government, so other countries with such tanks could not send them to Ukraine without it.

The United States operates thousands of M1 Abrams tanks built by General Dynamics, but they are considered unsuitable for Ukraine because they are driven by gas turbine engines.

Another key Ukrainian ally, France, has not said whether it would be willing to supply one of its own Leclerc tanks to Ukraine.

Earlier this month, the United States announced it would send dozens of Bradley armored fighting vehicles to Ukraine, with Germany and France also pledging to send armored vehicles.

A resolution on the Leopard 2 tanks could be reached on Friday, when Ukraine’s allies are due to hold talks in Germany on boosting military support for Ukraine.

The Ramstein meeting comes as Chancellor Olaf Scholz faces growing pressure to allow the export of Leopard 2 tanks.

Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, whose economy ministry is responsible for approving defense exports, said Thursday that Berlin should not stand in the way of countries that have such units and want to supply them to Kyiv.

Visual of the countries sending weapons to Ukraine.

How did Russia react?

The Kremlin has said the tanks the UK plans to send to Ukraine will “burn”.

“They [the UK] use this country as a tool to achieve their anti-Russian goals,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday when asked about the move.

“These tanks … will burn like the others,” he said, adding that the new supplies would not change the situation on the ground in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, a pro-Kremlin presenter on state broadcaster Rossiya 1 said the UK had “de facto gone to war” with its decision to supply the units.

“I consider that Britain is now a legitimate target for us,” said Vladimir Solovyev.

Will tanks make a difference in the war?

With Russian troops fortifying their positions in the occupied parts of eastern and southern Ukraine, and perhaps preparing for a new offensive in the coming months, battle tanks would provide Ukraine with a means better defend themselves and potentially make inroads on the battlefield.

Experts from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a British think tank, said last week that around 100 tanks would be needed for there to be “a significant effect on combat”.

“This would replenish Kyiv’s tank fleet, which has suffered attrition, and increase its capabilities,” the IISS said.

“While politically notable, providing a small number would in fact be a token gesture,” he added.

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