Germany and the US have pledged tanks to Ukraine, but critics are warning the move won’t guarantee victory – and could escalate the war further. 31 American Abrams tanks and 14 German Leopard tanks have been promised, with the Russian government quick to condemn the move as an escalation.
US president Joe Biden encouraged other Ukrainian allies to contribute tanks. He told reporters:
The key now is speed and volumes. Speed in training our forces, speed in supplying tanks to Ukraine. The numbers in tank support.
In the same address he made an odd claim that the Abrams main battle tanks posed “no offensive threat”. However, a US Department of Defense news update estimated that 31 Abrams tanks is enough to provide a full battalion of main battle tanks to Ukraine. It also added that:
The Abrams tanks are the most capable tanks in the world.
Russia government officials attacked the decision. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters:
It overestimates the potential it will add to the Ukrainian army. These tanks burn just like all the others.
Read on...Support us and go ad-free
In a separate statement on the German contribution, Russian officials said the move:
…contradicts the statements of German politicians about the unwillingness of the FRG [Federal Republic of Germany] to be drawn into it [the war]. Unfortunately, this happens over and over again.
Democracy Now! spoke to one German MP who warned that the German pledge followed heavy pressure from the US and went against the will of the German public:
Germany has agreed to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine after intense pressure from the United States and other NATO countries. German opposition lawmaker @SevimDagdelen, with the Left Party, says the deal goes against the will of the majority of Germans who want more diplomacy. pic.twitter.com/iMr23fP0Dm
— Democracy Now! (@democracynow) January 25, 2023
Critics in the UK pointed out that there was resistance to the idea of sending heavy armour even in the German political establishment. As the Stop the War Coalition wrote:
Fears that supplying the tanks could increase the risk of direct confrontation between NATO and Russia, were raised by Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz before last week’s NATO pledging conference.
Meanwhile, journalist Aaron Maté cited the New York Times’ view that the tanks’ usefulness was unclear, but their gifting by allies could tip the conflict into an even more deadly phase:
NYT: "While it is unclear whether" newly pledged German tanks "will make a decisive difference in the spring offensive" planned by Ukraine, "it is the latest in a series of gradual escalations that has inched the US and its NATO allies closer to direct conflict with Russia." pic.twitter.com/i7oTK7iKhR
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) January 26, 2023
Critics seem to believe the German and US tanks will make little military difference to the war in Ukraine. This implies that they are a largely symbolic gesture, more about unity in NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) than military advantage. If it is the case that the new armour headed for Ukraine is symbolic, the question of escalation becomes even more pertinent.
A simple question – is delivering a handful of main battle tanks to an ally worth setting off a global – even nuclear – war that could consume us all? Surely the focus of the ‘international community’, such as it is, should be on ending hostilities as soon as possible.Support us and go ad-free
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.