US and Germany agree to send armed combat vehicles to Ukraine | Ukraine

Joe Biden and his German counterpart Olaf Scholz agreed to send infantry fighting vehicles to help Ukraine fight Russia, a day after France announced it would provide its own armored vehicles to Kyiv in the purpose of creating a breakthrough in the 10 month war.

The joint announcement follows a phone call between Biden and Scholz and amounts to a sea change in Western military support for Ukraine, which has requested up to 700 armored vehicles to help drive out the Russians.

“The United States intends to supply Ukraine with Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, and Germany intends to supply Ukraine with Marder infantry fighting vehicles,” said Thursday the White House in a press release.

Ukraine has repeatedly said it needs 600-700 infantry fighting vehicles and 300 tanks from the west to give its army a chance to break through the increasingly fortified Russian positions along the way. along the front line.

Until now, however, the United States and Germany have been reluctant to supply Ukraine with armor that meets NATO standards, fearing that this could be interpreted by Russia as an escalation. But the decision to provide Western armored vehicles is significant, even though both countries have stopped sending tanks.

Germany will also supply Ukraine with a Patriot air defense system, in addition to that promised by the United States last month, the White House added. Both countries will train the Ukrainian military on Marders and Bradleys, although it was not immediately clear how many of each would be supplied.

Scholz’s deputy spoke in favor. “It’s a good decision,” said Robert Habeck, German vice-chancellor and economy minister, whose department must give the green light to arms exports.

“Since the beginning of the war, we have continuously expanded our support in coordination with our partners. It makes sense that we also take this step.

“Ukraine has the right to defend itself against the Russian attack, and we have a duty to help it.”

France announced on Wednesday that it was increasing its military aid to Kyiv by providing an unknown number of AMX-10 RC light armored vehicles capable, according to experts, of playing a reconnaissance role and supporting main battle tanks. Hours later, Biden hinted that the United States was considering following the Bradleys.

Earlier Thursday, senior German ministers indicated that their country’s position was also rapidly changing. Habeck, during a visit to the Norwegian capital, Oslo, said Germany’s position had never been “static” and would be influenced by the will of France and the United States “to deliver lighter tanks”.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock made similar comments. “I have repeatedly stressed that we are working with our partners to see what kind of military support is required by Ukraine,” she said after meeting with her British counterpart, James Cleverly, in London. Cleverly himself said tanks “may well be” part of the next phase of arms transfers.

On Wednesday evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Paris’s decision sent “a clear signal to all our other partners: there is no rational reason why Ukraine should not yet be supplied with tanks of the type western”.

Ukrainian soldiers on a tank in Donetsk, December.
Ukrainian soldiers in Donetsk. Ukraine has long had its eye on Western tanks to supplement its small fleet of Soviet-designed T-64s and T-72s. Photograph: Reuters

Ukraine has long had its eye on Western tanks and armor to supplement its dwindling fleet of Soviet-designed T-64 and T-72 tanks and BMP infantry vehicles, after more than 10 months of fighting.

Kyiv has received around 200 post-Soviet tanks from Eastern European countries since the start of the war, but the supply available in Europe is now limited.

To replenish its stockpiles and build a new attack force, Ukraine has sought to obtain American-made Leopard 2 tanks or M1A1 Abrams tanks, but its lobbying has been unsuccessful over the past year.

“Tanks are potentially decisive because there’s no substitute if you want to attack enemy formations in defensive positions,” Ben Barry, a former British Army tank commander and ground warfare analyst told the group. think tank of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Russia has largely sought to dig in since abandoning its exposed position in Kherson on the west bank of the Dnipro in November, as it tries to consolidate its occupation of a swath of territory roughly the size of Portugal in eastern and southern Ukraine.

A breakthrough, if it occurs, will likely require the combined use of tanks, heavy armor and infantry, replicating standard offensive tactics that date back to World War II. “Infantry effectiveness is doubled, even with just three or four tanks,” Barry added.

French six-wheeled AMX-10 RCs were first deployed in the 1980s and have been used in multiple operations, from Afghanistan to Mali. However, they are being phased out by Paris, making them an ideal gift for Ukraine.

An aide to the French president, Emmanuel Macron, said it was “the first time that Western-designed tanks have been supplied to the Ukrainian armed forces”, but experts said the AMX-10 RC was too lightly armored for be considered a real tank.

Additional reporting by Patrick Wintour


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