The pressure was beyond her endurance. The head of the German government, Olaf Scholz, is preparing to announce it this Wednesday Germany will send a company of Leopard 2A6 tanks, one of the most modern versions of its heavy tank, to Ukrainian troops fighting in the east of the country against the Russian occupation. A tank company usually numbers 14.
The German decision was crucial for other European countries (Poland, Finland, Spain, Greece, Czech Republic) to be able to send their Leopard 2 tanks (A4 or A6), as they are German-made and needed a permit for re-export from Berlin.
Leopard 2 will not work alone. According to ‘The Wall Street Journal’, around 30 American Abrams will join the already announced British Challenger 2, equivalent to the Leopard 2.
The US government had said on several occasions that it would not send the Abrams because they are expensive, difficult to maintain and consume much more fuel than the Leopard 2s, which are already found near Ukraine in arsenals in Germany, Finland or Poland.
Washington gave in because Berlin has repeated several times in recent days that if the United States did not send heavy tanks, Germany would not send them either. Now all eyes are on French President Emmanuel Macron, who has said nothing about his Leclerc, equivalent to Leopard 2 and Abrams.
The pressure on Scholz it came from all corners of European diplomacy. On Monday, European Chancellor Josep Borrell and European Council President Charles Michel (speaking on behalf of Europe’s 27 governments) called for the tanks.
On Tuesday he did so in Berlin, together with the new defense minister Boris Pistorius, the secretary general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, who recalled that in addition to tanks, Germany is one of the main contributors of arms and financial aid to Ukraine .
The shipment of this type of heavy weapons, desperately requested by Ukraine, was discussed in depth last Friday at a meeting of around fifty countries at the US base in Ramstein, Germany. The Pentagon gathered there all the countries that in one way or another help the Ukrainian government.
It was expected that already then Berlin has announced the sending of tanks, but was made to wait nearly a week.
When Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24, it seemed utterly impossible for the Europeans to send arms. Soon after, weapons and the first personal rocket launchers capable of attacking tanks or helicopters began to be sent.
Before the European summer they began to arrive the first artillery pieces, already numbering in the hundreds. This new step is the penultimate one, after which only fighter planes will be missing.
Armor superior to the Russians
Ukraine will be able to count within a few weeks the first shipments because diplomatic sources assure that the training of its tankers has already begun in Poland. Challengers, Abrams and especially the Leopard 2 (there are almost 2,000 of them in European arsenals) are considered “heavy tanks”, intended for high-intensity battles, not for moving troops.
They are cars that usually weigh between 50 and 70 tons, which move between 60 and 80 kilometers per hour and whose cannons have shooting range up to five kilometers. They are the right weapons when you want to advance into a theater of military operations where the enemy force is already entrenched.
The Leopard 2 and Abrams are superior to their Russian counterparts, faster and capable of firing further, on the move, faster and even at night, so they can take on Russian tanks without exposing themselves to their fire.
Experts ensure that these tanks, developed between 1970 and 1990, still in the midst of the Cold War, were designed precisely for the use that Ukraine will make of them: battles against Russian tanks on the plains of Europe.
There has already been a clash between American Abrams tanks and Russian T-72s. In 1990, during the first Gulf War, the Americans faced for the first time the new Russian tanks purchased by Iraqi satrap Saddam Hussein. The Abrams were superior.
Western powers are already sending “light armor”. They are American Bradley, German Marder or French AMX-10 RC. They weigh between 20 and 30 tons and support heavy tanks, for example by carrying soldiers or ammunition for them.
Mark Jones is a world traveler and journalist for News Rebeat. With a curious mind and a love of adventure, Mark brings a unique perspective to the latest global events and provides in-depth and thought-provoking coverage of the world at large.