The New York Times: Russia-Ukraine War Briefing

Tanks for Ukraine.

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Accessed on 25 January 2023, 2236 UTC.

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Russ Roberts (

Ukraine-Russia News

January 25, 2023

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By Carole Landry

Editor/Writer, Briefings Team

Welcome to the Russia-Ukraine War Briefing, your guide to the latest news and analysis about the conflict.

A U.S. Abrams tank during military exercises in Poland in 2016.David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters

Tanks, finally

Germany and the U.S. announced today that they would send battle tanks to Ukraine, a move meant to unlock a wave of heavier aid to help Ukrainian forces beat back Russian forces.

President Biden spoke just hours after Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany would send an initial shipment of 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and lift export restrictions to allow other nations to send their own.

Speaking at the White House, Biden said the U.S. would provide 31 Abrams tanks, addressing Germany’s insistence that it would not supply the weaponry unless the U.S. did the same.

In recent weeks, the dispute with Germany had turned bitter, exposing divisions within NATO. Some German politicians and European leaders argued that Berlin was squandering a chance for leadership in Europe and actively hindering its allies.

While the pledges fell far short of the 300 tanks that Ukraine had said it needed to gain a decisive upper hand on the battlefield, Germany’s announcement prompted Finland, the Netherlands and Spain to say that they would also send tanks to Ukraine or were open to doing so.

Poland said yesterday that it was seeking Germany’s permission to send Leopard tanks from its own stocks. Britain has pledged to send 14 Challenger 2 tanks.

With Germany finally on board, attention turned to getting the tanks to the front lines quickly. It could take months for the first Leopard to arrive on the battlefield, and a year or longer for the Abrams.

A German Leopard 2 tank in 2011.Michael Sohn/Associated Press

“Sending the armor has the potential to be a game-changer,” said Daniel Fried, a former U.S. ambassador to Poland. “But it depends on when they get there. If you add up the tanks, plus the Bradleys, plus the German Marders, plus the French armored vehicles — once they all get there and are integrated into the Ukrainian forces, the Ukrainians are going to have a lot more punch.”

The Pentagon had been reluctant to send Abrams tanks, in part because they are challenging to operate and maintain. The Leopard 2 is a natural choice for Ukraine because it is easier to operate and there are already hundreds potentially available in Europe.

After Ukraine’s Russian-made tanks were destroyed or disabled in combat, there were fewer replacements to be found, my colleague John Ismay, who covers the Pentagon, told me.

Along with the deliveries of Abrams and Leopard tanks, “NATO nations also have stockpiles of ammunition and spare parts that Ukrainian troops can use to keep them engaged in combat against Russian forces,” he said.

Russia’s ambassador to Germany, Sergey Nechayev, warned that Germany’s move was an “extremely dangerous decision” that “takes the conflict to a new level of confrontation.”

The decision by the U.S. and Germany will generate enough tanks for about three new Ukrainian battalions. Western officials say that providing tanks and other heavy weaponry to Ukraine will prevent a long and static war that could favor Russia’s military.


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