by Ash Breedlove
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz Source: BBC
On January 25th, Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that Germany would send fourteen Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, allowing other nations with these German-made vehicles to send them as well. Poland has been lobbying Berlin for permission to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine for months. Along with fourteen of the Leopard 2 tanks in their possession, Poland is sending another sixty tanks. Thirty of these tanks are PT-91s developed from Soviet T-72s—the model that Ukraine has primarily used to defend against Russia’s invasion.
Kremlin spokespersons criticize Western allies for sending modernized tanks to Ukraine. From Russia’s perspective, this is an act of aggression from non-warring countries and only serves to escalate the conflict. While the Kremlin has released inflammatory statements, attacks on the ground in Ukraine have not shown an increase in intensity that would indicate retaliation for the tank deal. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials have conveyed optimism that this aid package will significantly affect the prospects of the war. Now, concerns shift towards delivery and implementation. Polish officials estimate it will take up to three months for these tanks to reach Ukraine. Along with providing Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, Germany would also provide training for the Ukrainian military in the usage of Leopard 2 tanks. While the deal is set, there is still time for Russia to respond before modernized tanks fall into the hands of the Ukrainians.
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