You might call the debate about tanks a development of Western policymakers’ views.
It’s a disaster and doesn’t offer the unity that Western nations have fought for over this year-old conflict.
This pattern of Western indecision has become a familiarity for the Ukrainians.
It’s a familiar pattern: Have a huge row, then say “no” and then agree. It’s practically baked into the Ukrainian request lead times.
News from Berlin, Warsaw that tanks could be sent to Ukraine suggests movement by the Americans.
The Germans have repeatedly stated that they did not want the tank to only be their tank fighting the Russians. (The British offer of a few Challenger 2s did not swing them.
The Germans wanted an American M1 Abrams tank to go with their Leopards.
The Americans denied it. The Americans said no. Remember that success in war depends on a steady, uninterrupted supply chain.
The M1 Abrams is highly advanced and full of manufacturing secrets, including composite armour that contains hard-to-penetrate uranium meshing.
The tip of an army’s spear is the battle tank. Its secrets will be compromised if it is destroyed or left on the wrong side of the advancing enemy lines.
It’s one thing to have American troops operating, and if necessary, destroying their damaged tanks. Can they trust Ukrainian soldiers to do the same? This is just one of many things the Americans will consider when they supply their Abrams.
American debate has seen a split opinion. “Why not just provide a few tanks, older, less sophisticated models to break the impasse?” Some politicians and generals asked.
Even the ex-prime minister of Great Britain, who was a strong supporter Ukraine, spoke up.
“Where is the West needing to station tanks at this time?” Boris Johnson was asked.
“Guarding North Rhine-Westphalia?” Protecting Tennessee? Protecting Tennessee? Let me ask you again: What grounds could there be to delay?
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The Pentagon’s spokesman would not be drawn, even though Berlin had given word of movement.
General Pat Ryder, however, did hint at an announcement later on. He spoke about not wanting “preview an annoucement”.
So, expect to hear news from Washington as soon as possible.
It is likely that any American tanks won’t reach the battlefield in time.
This will make it possible to resolve supply chain issues and allow for training. This could allow for the exploration of ways to minimize the chance of valuable technology from tanks falling into the hands Russians.
The perennial mystery is: how will Putin respond? The presence of Western tanks in the conflict will alter the picture, and Putin’s unpredictable red lines will be a constant worry.