After the US and Germany announced plans to send heavy battle tanks to Kiev, more countries intend to send tanks to Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed that there are already 12 countries in Ukraine’s tank alliance.
Commit up to 321 tanks
Mr. Zelensky has frequently called on the West to provide heavy tanks, which he says will play a key role in the counter-attack by Ukrainian forces in the spring.
So far the US has committed to provide 31 M1 Abrams main battle tanks to Kiev, while Germany has agreed to deliver 14 Leopard 2 tanks. Britain has committed to provide 14 Challenger 2 tanks and Poland has said it is ready to deliver. an additional 60 tanks were modernized and 14 Leopard 2s for Kiev.
Since the end of February 2022 until now, Poland, Slovakia, Czech, North Macedonia and the Netherlands have delivered to Ukraine at least 450 modernized tanks, mainly T-72, according to the report. Washington Post.
Ben Barry, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), told the BBC that Western tanks supplying Ukraine would make all the difference. But he also warned that the commitments made by the West so far could not be decisive.
In modern warfare, tanks are an important element when carrying out attacks to break through enemy lines and retake territory.
When used effectively, they provide mobile firepower, protection, shock and surprise. In addition, due to concentrated in large numbers, tanks can disturb the enemy’s defenses.
Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former commander in the British Army’s Royal Tank Regiment, pointed out that the number of tanks was crucial to making a breakthrough.
An armored brigade for a major offensive operation usually consists of at least 70 tanks. So the hundreds of battle tanks that the West supplies to Ukraine – now committed to a total of 321 heavy tanks – can make a big difference.
However, commenting on CNN, military writer Brad Lendon assessed that these tanks will not be an instant game changer.
When will the tanks arrive in Ukraine?
According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the Russian military began its military operation in Ukraine with 3,000 main battle tanks, while Ukraine had 982. By January 24, Russia had lost at least 1,642 aircraft, and Ukraine lost 449.
Having confirmed that it will receive the American M1 Abrams, the German Leopard 2 and the British Challenger 2 tanks, Ukraine now faces the logistical and operational challenge of being able to combine different types of tanks. and complex into their combat units.
Modern main battle tanks are complex weapons. Much of their effectiveness on the battlefield depends on the sophisticated electronic and computer systems inside. These systems find the target and control the main gun of the tank.
Maintaining and repairing tanks and supplying the necessary components requires detailed training from the driving team to the logistics support, which is hundreds and possibly thousands of miles from the front lines in eastern Ukraine. thousand kilometers.
“The most efficient type of Ukrainian tank that can be operated and maintained is the right choice. This means that tanks, in large numbers, require less complex systems, running on easy fuel. the most accessible and using available ammunition. Maybe the Leopard 2 tank meets these criteria, “said Blake Herzinger, a researcher at the American Enterprise Institute.
But the first challenge is the tank delivery time. Even by the most optimistic estimates, it will take months for Western tanks to enter the battlefield in Ukraine in sufficient numbers to make a big difference. In the case of the M1 Abrams tank, it could take more than a year for Ukraine to deploy this type of tank.
In addition, history shows that using tanks alone is not enough to win battles, according to the BBC. First, artillery support was needed to weaken the enemy’s defenses, and then infantry support was needed to defend the recaptured areas. Therefore Ukraine will need more support from the West, besides modern tanks.
Russia has reacted angrily to the West’s latest commitments to Kiev. The Kremlin says it sees the delivery of advanced tanks to Ukraine as evidence of the growing “direct involvement” of the US and other NATO members in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.