Why is everyone talking about tanks all of a sudden?
The way war is fought. Ukraine Going forward, tanks are likely to be very important.
Ukraine says a major Russian offensive is coming in the spring and could throw another half a million Russian troops into the war.
In ground battles involving massive infantry assaults, a tank can make all the difference.
Didn’t the experts say that this war made the tank obsolete?
They did, but it was about older types of tanks that both Ukraine and Russia were using.
They had Soviet-made T tanks from the T 64 to the T 90, the numbers usually indicating the year the tank first entered service.
Ukrainian spotters have destroyed more than 1,500 of them on the Russian side using drones in conjunction with Western-supplied anti-tank weapons.
Why are Ukrainians asking the West for more tanks?
The Ukrainians have a lot of tanks, but they also have T tanks, especially the T 64 and T 72, which are old and vulnerable to a Russian attack.
To repel the Russian spring offensive, they need modern battle tanks that are better, faster and more lethal.
And they need them, too, if they want to break through the wells of Russian forces and reclaim land seized by the occupiers.
What are they asking for?
The best tank for Ukraine would be the German made Leopard 2.
Tanks are rated on their ability to attack other targets and their resilience to attack.
Cheetah 2 moves faster, has sophisticated targeting and is well protected by armor.
It is also, importantly, operated by 14 European countries, so spare parts are widely available.
Don’t want the Challenger tanks the British are sending?
Yes, the Challenger is a very capable tank but the UK can only spare a dozen of them.
Ukraine wants 300 tanks. Experts say that if it gets to 100, it will be enough to make a difference.
Britain is essentially offering them as a catalyst to persuade the Germans and others to send their battle tanks.
Is it working?
still not. Germany is reluctant to ship tanks but instead is reluctant to allow other countries to ship them – which they need because Berlin has an export license.
Germany says that will change if the Americans also send their Abrams tanks.
Are Abrams tanks better?
It’s like buying a second-hand car. Availability of spares and servicing is critical.
Everywhere Leopard in Europe excels in both areas.
The Abrams M1 loses points on fuel consumption compared to its German rival and has a significant problem with fuel shortages.
Will the US send anything anyway to encourage the Germans to give up the Leopards?
As things stand, no.
It seems they want the EU to do more to support Ukraine.
They also fear that sending the Abrams would mean that Ukraine’s real offensive capability is provided to the US and would escalate the war, with Russian propaganda claiming the war is about fighting US aggression.
What if Ukraine doesn’t get the tanks it needs?
Russia’s wartime leader Joseph Stalin once said that “quantity has its own quality” and Russia is mobilizing millions of troops, possibly preparing for a major offensive in the spring.
Western-supplied tanks will be critical to repelling the threat, Ukrainian commanders say, and many military experts agree.
But they need them soon if they are to have enough time to train them and use them effectively to counter the Russian threat.
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